Women in the Fire Service training weekend looks at mindfulness and mental health

Shilla Patel with LFB Commissioner Dany Cotton.

With mental health becoming an increasingly important subject for the emergency services, Shilla Patel, a training course designer at Babcock International Group (Babcock), focused on emergency services, has been asked to present on both mental health and mindfulness at this year’s Women in the Fire Service (WFS) Training & Development weekend, which takes place from 16-18 June.

While a regular presenter at the popular annual event, which sees dozens of female and male firefighters and support staff attend each year, this will be the first time Shilla has been asked to tackle the sensitive topic of mental health. Her focus will be, among other topics, to tackle the challenging issue of mental health for those serving in emergency services.

Shilla, whose current work involves supporting Babcock’s 25-year training contract with London Fire Brigade, believes raising awareness at the event was a vital way to reach out to people who may be affected.

Shilla said, “If you look at the broad-brush spectrum of surveys there are out there some of the statistics can be quite concerning. The World Health Organisation, for example, says up to two-thirds of British adults say they have experienced mental ill-health at some point in their lives. Rethinking mental health as well as understanding the signs of mental ill-health, which I will cover in the three-hour workshop, will be really important. For many of those in the emergency services they need to work at ensuring their physical health is at an optimum – so this will be about how we can take better care of our minds and mental state and spotting when things are getting out of control.”

During the weekend, Shilla will also be running a session on mindfulness where she will take the group through a short meditation and explain how beneficial mindfulness can be in helping us take care of our mental health. Babcock supports mental health charity, Mind, in their Blue Light Programme.