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Clutha Vaults survivor kick starts rollout of Hillcrest’s mental health first-aiders

Posted: March 9, 2020

A talk about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a survivor of The Clutha Vaults helicopter crash kicked off the launch of Hillcrest’s mental health first aiders, who will be available to support staff across the whole organisation.

Survivor Michael Byrne, who went on to found his company Lived Experience Trauma Support (LETS), gave the newly appointed mental health first-aiders a comprehensive insight into the struggles of living with Complex PTSD.

Pictured from left with Michael Byrne (foreground) is HR manager Sarah Steel with mental health first-aiders Martin Callachan, Nancy Mitchell, Nick Kassam, Ryan Maguire, Pauline Sanyang, Greg Shanley and Kelly Banner.


Michael’s insight of the condition, brought on by a number of tragic experiences including the traumatic 2013 Clutha Vaults incident which killed 10 people when a Police helicopter crashed into the pub’s roof, gave the first-aiders a harrowing insight into living with mental health problems.

With mental health firmly in Hillcrest’s sights, 12 staff from across the organisation took part in the 16 hour Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid course, which has been co-designed by Scottish Government and the NHS.

The course equips the mental health first-aiders with the knowledge to be able to spot signs that someone may be struggling with one or more of a number of mental health issues, and to be able to offer the individual support and signposting.

Recent- figures have shown that one in three GP appointments now relate to mental health problems, and that one in five people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point.

The roll-out of Hillcrest’s mental health first-aiders represents a significant move in increasing the provision of mental health support at work, and gives those struggling a port of call where they can take steps to getting help.

Ian Hodge-Neale, Hillcrest’s senior health and safety adviser, said: “Poor mental health is something that affects many people, even if they don’t appear on the surface to be struggling. It’s also something that isn’t a static condition – those struggling with poor mental health can be completely fine one day but experience huge difficulty another.

“Hillcrest’s mental health first-aiders will offer a safe point for those struggling with issues to get in touch and begin taking steps to improve their mental health.

“Poor mental health affects a variety of people from all backgrounds, and many may find it difficult to seek help or even admit that they are suffering. This initiative will hopefully also help raise awareness that it’s ok not to be ok, and that help is easily accessible.”