I’m so excited right now because I’m planning my first proper expedition in ‘Andy’s Landie’.

Mountain Rescue Volunteers in Scotland have invited me to their bases in June/ July to check out their Land Rovers, meet the teams and talk about mental strength & wellbeing. This trip will assist teams introducing the ‘UKSAR Wellbeing Framework’ after their recent Wellbeing and Resilience weekend. What an adventure it will be! Normally the old girl doesn’t stray too far from home, but this is a challenge I’m up for, although it does seem a little daunting right now because I don’t think she is ready just yet. But that’s part of the fun and adventure – getting the vehicle ready for the trip and sorting out the route, stops, digs etc. I have also decided that I’m going to make a short film from the highlights of this trip after acquiring some BBC training on making films on my mobile phone.

Andy's Landie green lanes
Green lane fun

The trip idea was ‘hatched’ in February at the first ever Wellbeing and Resilience weekend for Mountain Rescue Volunteers in Scotland, where I had the pleasure of speaking. Congratulations to our colleagues north of the border for being the first members of the UKSAR community to implement the UKSAR Wellbeing Framework. Special mention for Steve Penny, (SMR Wellbeing Officer) who has also released a short film ‘Avalanche’ which focuses on how one volunteer felt after a traumatic incident. You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=qabCvFwmNyo

Let me explain why I’m so looking forward to this trip and why it will be so good for me.

Firstly, it’s an adventure. Success is not guaranteed, there is preparation involved, I’ll need to improve and prepare the Landie, as the old girl doesn’t normally venture too far from home, for fear of breaking down. I’ll have purpose preparing her for the trip and almost be ‘on a mission’ as I journey around the bases and through some amazing scenery. During the trip, I’ll learn more about the teams, meet up with old friends and make some new ones. I’ll also be able to share my story and lessons I’ve learned about my own mental strength and wellbeing through my career and personal life. The challenges and rewards of this journey are linked closely to wellbeing, which is the subject of this blog.

I discovered recently that the NHS has published 5 ways of Wellbeing, based on research. The focus is on the 5 categories of: connect, keep learning, take notice, be active & give. Surprisingly close to my own list (see a previous blog), but a lot simpler and because it’s based on research, this is worthy of a checking your own mental health against. 

5 ways of Wellbeing NHS
5 ways of Wellbeing (NHS)

Knowing about this simple recipe for wellbeing and applying it in my own life over the last few years would have helped me look after myself much better than I did. What works well for you? How do you provide these 5 things for yourself if you are feeling great right now, or what areas have you been neglecting, if you are not feeling so fantastic lately?

Perhaps take a look at yourself, is there something slightly out of kilter with your routine/ balance? Perhaps you are not sleeping well, drinking slightly more alcohol or caffeine, irritable, lacking your normal drive, having difficulty making simple decisions or not able to complete certain tasks? Perhaps a slight adjustment with more emphasis on the ‘5 ways’ could make the difference? These are the proven 5 areas of your life to focus on in order to feel better and do better. It’s very important to take care of one’s mental health in simple ways. Having occasional poor mental health for a few days doesn’t mean that we are mentally ill or have a formal diagnosis, but is just a normal part of life, especially as a volunteer emergency responder in mountain rescue.

Over the last year I realised that just as our physical health varies over time with minor dips (colds, sprains, sports injuries), we all have varying mental health over time also. For example, feeling a little low after an upsetting callout, feeling slightly anxious about a new job or role within the team, sadness when a loved one becomes seriously ill. By focusing on these 5 ways of wellbeing in your own life, especially during the many bumps of 21stcentury life, we can keep ourselves and each other on track for good mental health & develop our mental strength, often in a fun & positive way. 

Mental Health First Aid as important as Physical first aid
Mental Health varies just like physical health

What is Mental Health First Aid? 

There are 350,000 people registered in England and over 2.5 million people worldwide trained to recognise mental ill health and help others find the support they need to stay well. We are a growing community, who are creating a society where attitudes and behaviour to mental health are normalised. 

We use a 5 step action plan to assist others: ALGEE

Approach the person, assess & assist with any crisis

Listen and communicate non-judgementally

Give support & information

Encourage person to get appropriate professional help

Encourage other supports

Andy's Landie in snow
January snow doesn’t stop Andy’s Landie

It’s been a busy start to 2019 for Andy’s Landie. After some green-laning fun with Mrs E over the Xmas holidays and fun in the snow early Jan, the real work began again with frequent runs to the tip and transferring hardcore from our house refurbishment to a friend’s field for his building project. This weekend I managed to find all the oil top up points in the transmission system of the series III and replenish them as required. This was the first step of mechanical preparation for the Scotland trip. Next on the list are replacing driver’s seatbelt, passenger step, electrics health check and upgrade for Sat Nav.

I also recently visited Edale MR, my local team, to learn about becoming a supporter and to hook up with my friend Dave Torr, their equipment officer. Dave was the person who told me the Series III was for sale and for that I owe him a lot. We had a great morning as we walked his dogs over big moor and chatted about all sorts, before having a black pudding scotch egg lunch and heading over to Edale base to check out the team’s newly refurbished Land Rover. I’m only reflecting on it as I type that without knowing it at the time, we were unconsciously boosting ourselves with the ‘5 ways of Wellbeing’ that day. You can read more about my Edale visit in another blog post.

Edale Mountain Rescue Land Rover and Andy's Landie
More about this visit in a future blog….

Future events to see Andy’s Landie:

Mind Blue Light Champions meeting (London 21stMarch)

Our Blue Light day (17thApril)

Alpkit (Hathersage) Search & Rescue presentation (date TBC)

College of Paramedics National Conference 14-15thMay (poster presentation)

Series & 110 Land Rover club National Rally 25-27thMay

Highland show – Rural Mental Health stand (Edinburgh 20-23rdJune)

Please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you, if you’d like help to promote Wellbeing, mental strength, resilience or learn more about Mental Health First Aid. Invite me to your place, come to hear me speak, can you offer any help/ advice with vehicle prep for my Scotland trip?

Until next time, remember #itsoktotalk and stay wonky.

4 Comments. Leave new

Gary Robertson
11th March 2019 9:07 pm

Hey Andy
Great post and hope I can ride shotgun for a leg of the Scottish MR trip. I’ll do the brews. ….

Good luck with the trip Andy, hope Gary makes a good cup of tea. Maybe the Landie will take a short detour this side of the Irish Sea in the future. Big drive this year at Nias to change the culture with peer support. Who knows maybe we could see you taking a workshop here.
All the best. John

[…] you’re not sure where to start, the NHS published it’s research-based Five Ways To Wellbeing, which you can use to improve your own mental […]