Humber NHS Foundation Trust has blazed a trail by giving mindfulness and t’ai chi classes to firefighters.
The Trust-run Humber Recovery College has been teaching staff from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to improve their mental health and instructors met up with Green Watch at Clough Road Fire Station this week for another session. Friends and colleagues from Humberside Police came across the road (literally) to take part in the session and learn about the physical and mental benefits of the ancient martial art.
Camille Edmonds, the Trust’s Recovery College Lead, said:
“We’ve been working with the service’s occupational health and wellbeing service to deliver the classes from some of their venues.
This is the beginning of what we hope will be a very fruitful collaboration and we are proud to be able to offer the Fire Service the opportunity to experience some of the College’s courses.
“It’s the start of an excellent partnership and we hope the classes will become more preventive.”
The College takes an educational approach to mental health and wellbeing, offering courses co-designed and delivered by the tutors, students and volunteers to help support people become experts in their own care.
Operational since January 2016, the College’s ethos is founded on the key concepts of Hope, Control and Opportunity. Its aim is to build on its students’ strengths to help them develop the skills and confidence they need to manage their own recovery and live a meaningful life.
Recovery College Practioner Mike Scott, who has been practising t’ai chi for more than 12 years, delivered the t’ai chi classes to the firefighters at Clough Road Fire Station.
T’ai chi uses a series of interconnected movements directly descended from ancient Chinese martial arts to focus on posture, breathing and deep relaxation.
Its soft and gentle movements mean it can be practised by people of all ages and abilities, and regular practice can bring about physical and mental health benefits.
All the sessions were met with enthusiasm by the Fire Service staff.
One said: “It was the best part of my day – Mike Scott knows magic!” - while another admitted he had not been looking forward to the session but ended up enjoying it.
One member of staff at Service Headquarters in Hessle intends to attend a t’ai chi class after Mr Scott pointed out that its movements can help ease back problems.
Mr Scott believed the sessions have been a great success:
“We hope the presence of organisations such as the Fire Service will work positively to reduce the stigma associated with men not dealing with their mental health.”
He said men’s mental health was a particularly important topic as the UK has the highest male suicide rate since 2011.
Further information about the College is available from the Trust’s website at http://www.humber.nhs.uk/about-our-trust/recovery-college.htm or on Twitter @HftRecoveryCol and Facebook @HumberRecoveryCollege.