Mental Health Training

Jonny Ward

Hi, my name is Jonny Ward AKA The Anxious Fireman. Full time I am a watch officer with The Fire and Rescue Service. Part time I am a qualified and practicing psychotherapist and mental health instructor. I fell into the mental health world following my own problems with anxiety. I started having panic attacks due to stress. These panic attacks became something I started to fear, which led to what is diagnosed as panic disorder with agoraphobia. A simpler way of looking at this is fear of fear. It took me some time to overcome and come to terms with my own anxiety and led me down the road of examining myself, my past, my upbringing, my feelings towards myself as a man and as a person. I never planned to become an instructor but as a started talking more openly and more publicly about my experiences I was sort of dragged further and further down the road of teaching and training. I trained to be a psychotherapist and a mental health first aid instructor. What I believe I can bring is first hand experience, academic knowledge and an ability to get over complex information in a manner that is understandable. I also work in the 999 services, in a male dominant environment and I feel this gives me a unique insight into that world. I am pragmatic, honest and very open on my courses, I do not bring any false hopes. I practice and teach in a person centred and existential way, looking at individual experiences.

How have you taken care of your own mental health and wellbeing since the start of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic?

 Being in the emergency services I have continued my life almost as normal through the pandemic. Due to that, I feel I have felt the psychological impact less in a strange way. It has offered myself and colleagues a chance to help further the people of our community. For many, including my wife, life has completely changed. For me, I have pretty much continued as normal with the exception of showering thoroughly before I leave my fire station. I have missed my friends and family, who I have barely seen for a few months, however I am deep down a quiet introvert so this time has been peaceful and simpler. I recognise that for many this has not been the case and my therapy client work has been busier and I have taken to offering training courses online so that has been a change for me.

How do you want to change the world?

I don’t. As an existentialist I recognise each minute, how small, how insignificant my time on the earth will be. For me, the delusion that we, as a single person, have some privileged position and can change the whole world is part of the modern psyche of individualistic importance.

I focus on myself, my internal world. I focus on being kinder, on being more empathic, on acceptance of negative emotion and on the pure joy of simply existing. The point of life, is to simply be alive. But by trying to be a better person, I hope a rippling affect may, and its only a may, will spread out to the small world that I inhabit so that those that I meet, those that I interact with, may feel happier in my presence.

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