A former paramedic who has witnessed the worrying rise in mental health problems first-hand on the front line, has designed a revolutionary wellbeing ‘first aid kit’ to help people take better care of themselves.
Kyle Raffo has joined forces with personal development coach Charles Sanders (both from Tamworth) to launch the new Pause kits, which they hope will improve the nation’s wellbeing and help prevent some of the more common stresses and anxieties developing into mental health problems.
Through their work, the duo has experienced the rise in mental health issues and the impact this is having on the UK’s healthcare and emergency services, education and the workplace.
Just as someone would reach for a first aid kit if they were physically injured, the Pause mental wellbeing kit contains a variety of sensory items that people can reach for in the moment if they’re feeling stressed or anxious.
By providing the kits to schools and workplaces, the founders of the new Pause community interest company also hope to encourage more conversations about mental health, and get people into the habit of looking after their mental health, as they would with their physical health.
The launch coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year is focusing on one of the most common mental health problems people face – anxiety.
A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious it stopped them from doing things they want to do some, or all, of the time.
As part of the awareness week, the Foundation has issued some top tips to help people cope with anxiety. The Pause mental wellbeing kit includes a number of items which can assist with those strategies, including sleep balm, a sleep mask, an award-winning sensory board, a gratitude journal, access to music and a stress ball. All items have been carefully selected by paramedics and work on the premise of reducing stress by inhibiting the sensory channel.
The self-care kit is easy to carry around in a bag or keep in a desk to be used discreetly as and when needed.
Kyle, who spent a decade working in frontline healthcare emergency services in the West Midlands, said: “During my time as a frontline paramedic, I responded to countless 999 calls that were related to mental health issues, so much so that these became the majority.
“As a society, we need to get much better at looking after our wellbeing so we can start to prevent at least some of these issues from occurring. The NHS is in crisis already and with additional financial strains facing people, this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
“The figures about the impact on children and businesses also make for concerning reading. It’s time to change this.
“We need to do what we can to help ourselves before we get to the point of individual crisis. Let’s give people the tools, resources and knowledge to prevent mental illness where possible. That’s what the Pause wellbeing kits are designed to do.”
Charles, who has been working with business owners and company directors for several years, said: “I’ve seen the growing impact of stress and burnout on the economy. The financial cost of days off sick due to poor mental health, not to mention the toll on the individual, is not sustainable.
“While mental health and wellbeing is definitely creeping up the agenda, it’s still not a big enough priority. People are still saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable telling their employers if they were struggling with their mental health and worry that they wouldn’t be supported if they did.
“The Pause kit is designed to help businesses demonstrate that they are invested in the wellbeing of their staff and that it can be discussed. As well as benefiting from the tools within the kit, employees will hopefully feel reassured that they are supported and cared about at work.”
As a community interest company, Pause is on a mission to improve the nation’s wellbeing, one kit at a time. Profits from the sale of kits will be invested into training and support for schools, universities, workplaces and healthcare services.
Kyle and Charles will also be campaigning for tougher legislation around the obligations of employers and educational settings to support the wellbeing of staff of students.