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Michael, Metal Health First Aider

It's the small gestures, like simply being there for someone, that can have a real big impact.

As part of our wellbeing services, we've trained Mental Health First Aiders to support colleagues and signpost them to help. Michael Hogg, Head of Physical Security & Information Protection shares his story on why he was keen to become a Mental Health First Aider.

Could you tell us a bit about your career history?

I’ve worked in security for over 30 years, starting my career as a Doorman working on the doors in various locations. I then spent 15 years working in the prison services, including several years spent in the Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder Unit and as an Intelligence Analyst and Security Manager in Counter Terrorism. As you can imagine, I’ve come across all sorts of people and have dealt with some challenging personalities, many of whom have experienced severe mental health issues.

Could you tell us about your role and what it involves?

Having joined HCA UK six years ago, my role is Group Security Manager. I am responsible for the security of all colleagues, patients, visitors and premises. Also, I have taken on the role managing our facility-based Security Risk Analysts assessing all information protection risks.

I feel valued working for HCA UK and enjoy knowing the decisions I make improve the safety for everyone. I feel supported by my manager but empowered to make decisions.

Can you explain what Mental Health First Aider is?

A workplace Mental Health First Aider is to be a point of contact for a colleague who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate help. As well as in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are valuable in providing early intervention help for someone who may be developing a mental health issue.

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained to be therapists or psychiatrists, but they can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

What made you chose to become a Mental Health First Aider?

My experience in the prison services and personal experiences has given me a strong background in supporting people who may need help. I have always been a good listener and feel that I have a lot to give.

During my time at the Prison Services, I was a counsellor for staff and also had to undergo counselling myself. This experience has enabled me to support many people over the years and hopefully for years to come.

I want to be there for people to support them and help improve their mental health. People who are struggling need to know they are not alone. This is especially important for men, as many are not very good at opening up, so I want to encourage more conversations.

It’s important for people to know that these conversations will be kept confidential.

Can you think of a time when you’ve had a positive impact on someone?

Just being there for someone, letting them talk, listening to them and guiding them in the direction of support has a real impact on someone in need. It’s good to be a role model, as an ex – Prison Officer and rugby player, many people would have preconceived ideas about stereotypes, however, I am very approachable and very easy to talk to. It’s also a good message to have senior managers supporting the wellbeing of our colleagues.

Although I no longer play rugby, I’m still involved with the rugby club. We recently lost one of our younger team members to suicide. He was a happy-go-lucky young man, and his death was a complete shock to everyone. Together, we have initiated a support group for all members and continue to encourage everyone to talk, as it’s good to talk.

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