Fiona Scott Media Consultanccy

Three paramedics have launched an innovative, modern-day mental health first aid kit crafted with the aim of saving more lives in every environment.

Brad Sadat-Shafai, Dylan McAteer and Kyle Raffo, founders of MERE, which stands for Medical Emergency Response Equipment, are offering what is thought to be the UK's first kit of its kind.

Brad, who lives in Congleton, Cheshire, said: "Mental health problems are more prominent in our society now than ever before. Having access to a traditional first aid kit for unexpected injuries is seen as the norm. Our maxim at MERE is 'be prepared' and we believe that everyone should also have access to a Mental Health First Aid kit. In fact, we would go as far as saying that this should be made a legal requirement for public spaces, schools and workplaces."

The kit comes in an organic cotton pouch made in a calming neutral colour, discrete in nature and compact enough to carry on the person or store safely away in an accessible place.

Within the pouch, there are several items to help with a range of emotions and symptoms such as a stress ball, sensory cube, ear plugs and eye mask, sticky notes with a bright pen, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy cards and a Support and Helpline card.

It has been proven that having a sensory experience can help regain control of emotions and stabilise mindsets, providing calmer and more relaxed feelings. Each item in the pouch can be used to prevent and manage those symptoms of mental health issues.

Kyle Raffo explained: "Mental health is currently a huge issue and dealing with people suffering from mental health problems is taking up more and more of the emergency services’ valuable time and resources. The pandemic, widespread lockdowns and the resulting economic uncertainty have negatively affected many people's mental health and intensified concerns for those already living with a mental illness."

The Mental Health First Aid kits are designed for people from the age of 12 and older and are created by paramedics in collaboration with health care professionals and those experiencing mental health problems. 

"As paramedics, we encounter those experiencing mental health issues on a daily basis," said fellow paramedic, Dylan. "Not only issues with patients, but also with our own medical and emergency services colleagues."

"Poor mental health doesn't discriminate," explained Kyle. "It can affect anyone of any age or background. That is why it is so important for homes, schools and workplaces to have these kits available to use when necessary. As paramedics, we have been called out to people suffering psychotic disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, suicidal thoughts and substance misuse.

"Although the long-term management of such conditions requires lengthy therapeutic treatments or even hospital care, in the first instance, the unique Mental Health First Aid kits provide the calming and stabilising effect that is needed."

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