Former world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno was the guest of honour as Edge Hill University hosted the Emergency Services Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference.
Attended by stakeholders from the police, NHS and fire services, as well as academics and students, the day consisted of a range of presentations, seminars and group activities catering for a range of target audiences.
Subject matter and issues addressed included Dementia, Loneliness, PTSD, Mental Health in young people, Study Stresses, Suicide Callers, Recognising Risk and Modern Safeguarding.
The conference, held at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine, was instigated to provide upskilling and training for attendees, providing knowledge on subjects and issues that continue to evolve in the emergency services sector, and the need for recognition of the continued challenges faced on the front line.
The day was then rounded off with a Q&A with British boxing legend Bruno, chaired by Sport & Physical Activity Professor, Andy Smith.
Frank spoke openly about a range of subjects, including his sometimes-difficult childhood, how being sent to borstal was the making of him, the highs and lows of his boxing career and his mental health struggles in retirement.
The 57-year-old, who revealed how a regular fitness and exercise regime had been key in his recovery, also offered views on the need to focus on aftercare for mental health patients and urged men not to suffer in silence should they feel they are struggling, as he also revealed details about the work being done by the Frank Bruno Foundation, and their aims in tackling mental health issues.
“Talking is key, a good starting point in dealing with any signs of mental health problems”, he said. “Make sure you look after yourself…the pressure of life was an issue for me, of not sharing my problems. Women are much better at it, they talk about their problems, but men can bottle it up.”
One attendee shared the following feedback of the day: “It was a fantastic. Frank Bruno was amazing. I could relate to some of the things that were said throughout the day and feel more able to help others and believe that there is more to be done about awareness of mental health, but it’s nice to know that it’s being recognised and that there are people out there to help.”
The event was fortunate to have been funded by Health Education England, coordinated by Paul Jones at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and supported collaboratively by Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Cumbria and the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. There are two further events planned in Lancaster and Liverpool in October and December focusing on paediatric care and education in the workplace – further information can be requested from email@example.com.