Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 5 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.
After an evening of chilling out by the pool and in the bar, we are back to the Roots House Reef this morning, with Keiron continuing his RAID Master Rescue Diver Course and enjoying Moudi’s vast experience as he learns more about advanced buoyancy skills.
Not sure where the week has gone; it’s Wednesday already. A few different things happening today… Oatsie who has just started at Hull University on a Marine Biology Degree Course wants to complete his sidemount course and this afternoon he is out with Guy Henderson to start his learning. Swars also wants to do the course, as he wants to get into cavern and cave diving. Swars will start his course tomorrow afternoon and both will spend a day being taught be Steve Rattle on Friday. Hopefully they will both be certified as RAID Sidmount Divers at the end of their training.
The morning sees Swars and I working with Corey again and taking him through the remainder of skills and OW dives. He is improving massively but we still have to work on trim and propulsion.
Keiron, unfortunately for him, has Oatsie and Michael for his diver recovery exercises; I am told there may well be an entanglement to deal with!
Conditions are perfect again as we all look forward to three great dives during the day.
90% of those we work with have mental health issues, mainly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of serving in various theatres of war. If you read some adaptive teaching manuals, they have a task to ‘teach a student with PTSD a skill.’ Hmmmmm how is Oatsie, Swars, Michael or Keiron any different than a student who is free from any mental illness? The answer is they are not, they are exactly the same. Do you talk to them differently, do you demonstrate skills differently? The answer is no.
If they have a flashback or a panic attack, then you need to step back and provide whatever assistance is necessary but only if there is a risk of them hurting themselves. All our team have to undertake and pass the two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course so we can intervene appropriately where the circumstances require it.
Do you know what a panic attack looks like? Do you know how to respond to a panic attack?
Flashbacks most frequently occur at night time but some do experience day time flashbacks. Flashbacks can lead to the individual feeling physically and mentally drained and can be triggered by anything that reminds them of the traumatic incident(s) they experienced. Sometimes there might be a need for one of our medical team to be involved. Often a period of quietness, rest and possibly sleep is required.
We have seen lots of our beneficiaries learn to manage their PTSD. As Chris Middleton said on a BBC programme:
“You can’t beat PTSD but you can learn to manage it.”
In addition to the scuba diving, Deptherapy also provides 24/7 support for our beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are encouraged to attend the MHFA course with their partner, parent, relative or friend.
Many will have read comments from our beneficiaries, that once they put their heads under the water their demons disappear. There are several factors to this: the peace, the quiet and the tranquillity that occurs underwater, the beauty of the corals and the amazing aquatic life.
Roots is very much like a retreat for us, we are miles away from any towns, there are no distractions, the nearest town is El Quseir, which is orthodox Muslim so there is no alcohol on sale. The recent bypass of the main Safaga to El Quesir/Marsa Alam road means that at night time there is no noise, just a brilliant star lit sky.
Beneficiaries are encouraged to talk openly with the team and their fellow beneficiaries about their injuries/illnesses and provide overwhelming support for each other as Corey found on this trip.
Our aim is to create a family atmosphere and Roots very much contributes to the sense of family and wellbeing.
Sadly, we live in a world where those with mental illnesses are largely discriminated against. Because few understand mental health, they are fearful of it and try to ignore it. Please look at the Mind website or even better sign up to a Mental Health First Aid Course. If you run a business then run the course for your staff, the benefits will be massive.
Back to the diving, Michael and Tom under Moudi’s close supervision gave Keiron some very challenging diver recovery exercises. Poor Keiron, but he responded tremendously.
Swars, is working well with Corey, ensuring horizontal trim and making sure he uses effective arm strokes for his swimming. We are organising an SMB session, so he can work with different types of SMBs.
Although we haven’t told him, he has finished all his skills but we still have work to do on his trim and propulsion. We want him to go beyond standards, we want him to be a very competent diver, who despite his devastating injuries, can self-rescue and support a buddy if in need.
The afternoon dive sees Michael joining myself and Swars with Corey. This dive is about buoyancy, trim and propulsion. Keiron is doing some more advanced buoyancy work with Moudi.
Oatsie had a great dive with Guy using sidemounts and is looking forward to completing the sidemount course with Swars and Steve Rattle on Friday.
In the evening, and before dinner, Moudi runs the RAID O2 Administrator Course for all five beneficiaries. It is a qualifying part of Keiron’s RAID Master Rescue Diver course but we decided it would benefit all of the guys.
Tomorrow we have decided to take Corey to 30 metres and for him to complete a narcosis test. Join us back here tomorrow to find out how we get on…
Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk
For More go to: Scubaverse