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Why Personal Safety Training is vital for Mental Health

In an era in which Mental Health at work is of key importance, ensuring your staff can confidently and safely travel to and from work is a fundamental component to boosting employee wellbeing.

mental health

The link between adequate provision of safety, a sense of safety and reducing personal security-based stress is fundamental to mental wellbeing. Fear or perceived fear takes its toll on both the body and mind, regularly activated cortisol and adrenalin during what we call a "constant low grade of fear" has long term physiological impact, and the undermining on the psychology that a sense of a lack of safety produces, debilitates both health and performance.

As employers and business owners, it is important we ensure staff are trained not just to help them know how to avoid risk or what to do in an emergency but with the intention of increasing their day to day psychological and physical wellness.

Safety and our right to safety is a basic human need. In Maslowe's hierarchy of needs security and safety are as important as sustenance and shelter. So why is this basic human requirement being overlooked in the fields of Workplace Wellbeing and in our modern Healthcare?

mental health

Life Skills

One argument we hear often is the government and the police should be providing our safety for us. However, similarly to all human needs, we need to be able to provide for ourselves and therefore if basic lifeskill training in security and personal safety can help us live healthier, happier, more productive lives then claiming opportunities for upskilling and training can go a long way for wholistic wellbeing and increased performance.

What Maslowe's diagram clearly illustrates is that a human need not fulfilled at the lower levels of the pyramid will have an impact on the upper levels too. With this in mind, building a foundation of key capabilities and awareness gives us opportunities for realisation further up the ladder.

What happens if we ignore our need for Safety?

A lack of safety or sense of safety leads to fear. A constant but low level of fear impacts the nervous system. Too much fear and you shut down your emotional self in order to cope. Contrary to popular belief Fear is not your friend. The impact states of fear have on the mind and body are not useful for functionality and performance and are detrimental to wellbeing. As someone who trains individuals both physically and mentally for high-stress hostile environments I can assure you the concept that fear is your friend which helps you act is misunderstood biology.

If you are impacted by fear in one area of life then you will more likely have another area of life suffering from / impacted by fear.

What does this mean? If you spend time worrying, it becomes a behaviour. Any behaviour is a pattern and once you spend time doing it in one area of your life, you are more likely to do it in other areas of your life. This is why we often see people who begin to train as athletes become more successful at work, because they are applying a discipline in one area of life which they end up applying in others too and everything benefits. The way you do one thing can become the way you do everything.

So, why does this matter at work?

In 15 years of supporting international businesses with their staff safety, we've seen from our studies that the average city worker is worried about their safety, especially whilst travelling to and from, or traveling for, work. As crime rates increase this concern naturally grows and whether workers are walking, cycling, driving, taking public transport or travelling internationally, the concerns are the same: people generally don't feel safe whilst they are traveling or moving around cities.

Clock up the number of hours we each spend travelling every week and you can tally up the monthly average of how long a worker feels on a spectrum of worried to not feeling safe. Too long. That constant, almost accepted, low grade concern, uncertainty, worry or fear, is bad for their physical and mental health.

In cases where individuals have experienced a threat to their safety the symptoms of PTSD can last for years. Prevention therefore is far better than cure and the best prevention training will not only provide avoidance and awareness but instil positive behaviours for overall wellbeing.

How Can Workplace Training help?

If people are concerned about travelling to and from work then the best place to train them is at work. That way staff and employee teams can learn how they can support each other, everyone learns together and employees can connect safe protocols to company procedures and the learning becomes contextually relevant to their day to day routine.

By providing the training at your place of work we can incorporate the building, the company's procedures and make the learning as relevant as possible. Relevance is key to turn facts into skills.

In our work at Personal Safety London we have seen workplace training to be the most effective way for staff to feel supported by their employers in this subject, with the model of having experts in the room, imparting their knowledge and experience and involving discussion, to be far more effective than online training programmes which isolate the individual and keep the learning away from the group.

Staff need to be able to turn round to someone who knows, ask questions, be reassured and have theories or common misconceptions explained to them, rather than simply learning a list of do's and don'ts. Discussion is a key tool for turning information into knowledge into understanding.

In over 15 years of our studies we've seen health matters such as stress, smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise be a regular symptom of low confidence and continual low-grade worry. When we see staff empowered with personal safety training we quite often also see increased levels of self confidence and self worth which lead to increased interest in self-care leading staff members to participate more in exercise and healthful practices.

Good training isn't just about the imparting of knowledge, it is also a vehicle for development and when we're up-skilling and building one of our basic human needs we need to understand it's importance in the hierarchy in the building blocks of our life. In Maslowe's diagram safety is on Level 02 of 5 levels. In our Principles of Human Functionality personal safety is Level 01.

"The removal of fear on a day to day basis enables individuals to flourish."

Find out more about our Corporate Training programmes at and who we work with at Personal Safety London clients.

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