Supporting mental wellbeing

A conversation with a Raytheon UK mental health ambassador

Raytheon UK employees take part in a march to fundraise for Combat Stress, an organisation that helps former service members cope with mental health related issues.

Since 2019, Raytheon UK has offered employees access to a network of “mental health ambassadors,” or colleagues who are trained to listen and provide counsel on a range of problems and concerns. Here, one of those ambassadors discusses why supporting mental health is so important, as well as the changing attitudes toward mental health in the defence sector

Firstly, what do you think is the general perception in the defence sector around mental health?

The position that we are in now is an improved one in comparison to a decade ago. Fortunately, we are moving away from thinking that talking about feelings is a weakness, and towards a place where people can actively speak about how they feel and seek help around really important issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Because of this, there is a general acceptance now in the armed forces and the defence sector that mental health is really important, and we are starting to provide the necessary systems and services to support people. I hope over the coming years this increases, especially for people serving in our armed forces and our veterans as these communities can at times be difficult to reach with the necessary help.

What originally inspired you to become a mental health ambassador at Raytheon UK?

I joined Raytheon UK after serving in the Royal Air Force, where I spent much of my time on operations across the globe. Like a lot of those I served alongside, once I left the armed forces, I found it hard to re-join civilian life. The time directly following me leaving the RAF was incredibly difficult for me and culminated in me reaching out for support regarding my mental health. The support I received was fantastic and helped me start the next chapter in my life. This prompted a change for me; I began to help people with their struggles, family, or friends, civilian or veteran, to open up and speak about how they’re feeling. Since joining Raytheon UK, this is something I have carried into my work – providing first-line support for my colleagues.

What are some of the mental health programmes that Raytheon UK has in place for its employees?

We are really lucky here at Raytheon UK; the business has developed a number of support systems to help employees across the country deal with mental health issues. The first of which is the Mental Health Ambassadors programme – we go through a series of training sessions, teaching us how to be mental health first aiders, showing us how to listen to our colleagues and signpost appropriate sources of help. More widely, there are seminars that run for Raytheon UK teams across the country on understanding some of the signs of people struggling and how we can take an active effort in helping us and those around us. Recently, we ran a “winter wellness” campaign looking to help employees during the winter months – the darker nights can often make the post-holiday period tough. I have always been a fan of actions over words – Raytheon UK has provided the necessary funding, training and support networks to truly help its employees.

Do you have any recommendations for anyone who is looking to support those around you?

I highly recommend to my fellow colleagues and people more widely to take the Mental Health First Aider Course that is provided by Mental Health First Aid. Outside of this though, build a network around you. If you’re taking on other people’s struggles, make sure you have people to talk to as well. Additionally, just listen, without judgement, to people about their troubles. Finally, ask people how they are, and ask again – it’s been a tough couple of years for everybody, being there for you family and friends will be welcome, I’m sure.

You can find out more about the support we offer our employees, as well as others within our local communities, through our Forward Steps programme here.

Published On: 01/27/2022
Last Updated: 05/04/2022