Search and rescue - how to manage your mental wellbeing

Explains how to manage mental wellbeing if you work or volunteer in the search and rescue service, including how to build resilience and where to go for support.

Your stories

What is mental health and mental wellbeing?

Taryn blogs about mental health and wellbeing. What do they mean to you?

Taryn Ozorio
Posted on 24/01/2011

Izzy's story

When Izzy had periods of low mental wellbeing, the support and acceptance of her Mountain Rescue team was key to helping her cope.

I have been a member of Mountain Rescue since 2000 and am now deputy team leader and also a team medic. Mountain rescue is something I have been committed to longer than any other job I’ve had.

I suffered from mental health problems for many years and since before I joined Mountain Rescue. I spent a lot of time sectioned in hospital to keep me safe. The turning point for me in my treatment was when I spent a year at a residential therapeutic community in 2008.

Mountain Rescue can be quite stressful as at times we deal with difficult situations including casualties who have taken their own lives. However, I have found that it has had a positive impact on my mental wellbeing because I am in a situation in which I have control and am able to do something positive to help. We work closely together as a team and being part of that gives me a sense of self-worth and builds my self-esteem.

When I’ve had problems with my mental health or wellbeing, the most helpful thing has been the team's acceptance of me.

I’ve been able to speak to colleagues about how I was feeling, and they were aware because at times I have been absent from the team. Many colleagues in the team are also friends, so it felt natural to talk to them about it.

No one judges me and they all trust me to do a good job. To my team mates, my mental health problems were never an issue; except when I was unwell, and in those situations they would offer support because they cared about me. They see me as someone who is equally part of the team and defined by what I do there, not by any mental health problems.

My advice to those who are having problems with their mental health or wellbeing would be to be as open as possible about what you are going through – it is not anything to be ashamed of. Try all avenues for help and support and keep trying until you find something that works. It can be a long, hard battle but you can come through it.

In the midst of it, these words may sound meaningless, but nothing stays the same for ever. Also remember that although it feels so isolating, others do go through similar things, including maybe some of your colleagues.

And if you have a colleague struggling with their mental health or wellbeing, my advice would be to let them know you care, and also let them know that you know it is only part of them not the whole person. Also be open with them; if you don't know what might help then ask them, but don't just pretend it's not happening.

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