It’s OK To Say - St Albans solicitors addresses mental health of staff and clients

Lehna Gardiner of Rayden Solicitors

Lehna Gardiner of Rayden Solicitors - Credit: Archant

A solicitor is raising awareness of mental well-being in her workplace by utilising the specialist training she has attended.

The Herts Ad has been backing anxiety specialist Stacey Turner’s It’s OK to Say campaign, which encourages people of all ages to speak out about mental health concerns before they escalate and obtain the support needed for a healthy and happy life, as well as striving to break down the stigmas surrounding the subject.

The campaign has already won the support of St Albans and District Chamber of Commerce, council mental health champion Cllr Anthony Rowlands, and Radio Verulam presenter Danny Smith.

As part of this initiative, we linked up with Lehna Gardiner of Rayden Solicitors who undertook a mental health first aid course in order to help her support both clients and work colleagues.

The two-day training was run by a registered mental health nurse via Mental Health First Aid England, and aims to support delegates to manage well-being proactively and minimise the impact of mental ill health on work and life.

The solicitor said she jumped at the chance to train as a mental health first aider as the majority of her clients are affected by mental health issues in some way.

Rayden is a specialist family law firm, advising clients on family law including financial and children matters relating to relationship breakdown, divorce and separation.

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Lehna said: “I put my new skills into practice almost immediately and feel much better equipped having done the training.”

Lehna felt she would benefit from the course due to the nature of the work she does with families - sometimes at very stressful times of their lives. She said she was able to use the practical advice offered immediately, gained an in-depth understanding of mental ill health and recommends the course to others.

Some solicitors also volunteer regularly at St Albans Citizens Advice Bureau, advising clients who cannot afford to instruct a solicitor and would otherwise have no access to justice.

Lehna said the training course gave her “an in-depth understanding of the factors that can affect wellbeing” and that she gained invaluable practical skills, including being able to more readily spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues.

Lehna added: “The day was interactive and comprised of group activities, presentations and discussions. The point of the course was not to teach delegates to be therapists, but to know how to listen, reassure and respond - even in a crisis.

“I found the mental health first aid course to be an invaluable source of knowledge and awareness and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in mental health issues. The more that we can build a supportive culture around mental health, the better.”

Senior partner of the firm, Katherine Rayden said: “It is vitally important that we support our staff and I am convinced that mental health first aiders have a significant role to play in helping our staff, and in the cultural development of our firm.”

Stacey Turner added: “Having the skills and an understanding of how to really listen and respond are essential qualities to support people in life on a daily basis, professionally or personally.

“You can really help someone open up, saying the issues out loud makes them more real and it can become easier to face up to even in difficult times.

“Based on the feedback, having references of further support helps people obtain help they need to support the journey they are on.

“Sometimes just presenting the options of help and support is enough, it shows the person they are not alone and what’s available.”