It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is kindness. All week we’ll be sharing stories of acts of kindness within the RAF family during the coronavirus lockdown.
Corporal Aaron ‘Elvis’ Jackson, 29, is a Weapons Technician at RAF Cosford. After seeing the impact of working on the coronavirus wards take its toll on his wife and her fellow nurses, he decided to try and help.
Kayla is a nurse, working with coronavirus patients on the renal ward at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. Due to difficulties caused by coronavirus such as wearing PPE, staff couldn’t leave the wards to go and get food for themselves or basic items for patients which were running out. Elvis noticed his wife was coming home from 15-hour shifts without eating so wanted to do something.
Elvis started fundraising to buy the needed items and through reaching out to his squadron and local Facebook group he raised £2,500. For patients he’s bought toiletries such as shower gel, toothpaste, deodorant and nappies for premature babies. For staff, treats such as hot chocolate and snacks to get them through the day.
With his car fully packed with provisions, Elvis has made multiple trips in recent weeks to deliver the goods to hospital. He’s made an effort to include other wards that were being forgotten about but also suffering the knock-on effects of coronavirus, such as the neonatal unit and mental health unit.
“Everyone was smiling and really grateful when we turned up with the items. Acts of kindness are important: to give those heroes from the NHS something to say we’re thinking about you and thank you very much for all your hard work”
“It’s been great to see acts of kindness in my local community too: my wife has been given gifts for herself and the other nurses at work, such as hand-knitted washbags to take uniform home in and items to make PPE more comfortable.”
Corporal Aaron ‘Elvis’ Jackson
After seeing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affect some of his friends and family, Corporal Jackson is a keen supporter of mental health.
“My close friends were in Bastion, Afghanistan when there was a serious attack, so I’ve seen the effects on them - the effects of war. But I’ve also seen that talking about it helps, so I wanted to help in some way and get involved.”
As a result, Elvis is now a Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) practitioner and Mental Health First Aider. TRiM is widely used throughout the armed forces: practitioners are trained to spot signs of distress in people that may go unnoticed and help peers who have experienced traumatic events.
“I think there’s quite a big stigma on mental health, especially in males. When I was younger I did think ‘I’m a man, I have to be big and strong’ but now that I have two boys of my own, I’d never tell them to hide their emotions.
“It’s absolutely important to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. People need to know that it’s okay not to be okay and should be encouraged to talk. We all try and hide our feelings at times, but it’s good to talk.”