Mental Health and Well-being

So this months learning was all about mental health. I have completed the Mental Health Workers and Mental Health at Work online courses, read “Stranger on the Bridge” and attended a two day Mental Health First Aid course along with 14 wonderful colleagues. I have previously done a couple of suicide prevention courses but strangely these were harder to digest. The more I learnt, the more I wanted to know. Each of the above has provided links to further reading and learning, but it has reached a point where I need to stop before it becomes all consuming … self care.

Why I hear you ask? Many years ago I reached the point where I felt I could no longer continue, I did think about how and when to check out. However, I also have two children and when I was sitting at my tipping point, one of them needed me to make a drink. This was my reason for staying. I was and am still needed, I still have responsibilities. I have a purpose. Others are not so lucky.

The advantage (or disadvantage) of working in HR, is the queue of staff at the door and realising that there is always someone worse off than you. Helping people cope with bereavement and serious illnesses within their lives can be very difficult, but it also puts your problems into perspective.

Last year seemed to be a tough year for many colleagues, much more than previous years. Maybe because the stigma is finally breaking and people felt they could ask for help … or maybe people were breaking and were forced to seek help? There is no boundaries of who it will affect in terms of age, sex, race, personal or financial circumstances. Either way, when we broke up for the Christmas holidays I was very concerned that one or two colleagues would not return in the New Year. Despite some little hiccups, thankfully they did.

This was my trigger to take a proper look at how our business can help, and our duty to help. A mental illness is just as important and debilitating as a physical illness. Mangers should look seriously at how to improve work life balance, the working environment, the pressure of work and how employees personal lives affects their working lives. My plan … to have a team of people who will spot the signs much sooner than someone will be brave enough to come to HR and ask for help.

Surprisingly, having a team of (predominately male) managers that find emotions difficult to manage, they have all been amazing in supporting their staff and this project, and were much more patient than I ever gave them credit for.

The Mental Health Workers and Mental Health at Work training gave advice on how to spots the signs of various conditions and how to help a person who is suffering and how to get them the help they need.

The Mental Health First Aid course, was more interesting than the e-learning courses for three reasons. Firstly I asked for volunteers and was surprisingly oversubscribed. There are people who want to help and that is the incredible side of humans that we don’t always see.

Secondly I was concerned that there was a number of volunteers who had recently suffered or were still suffering from poor mental health. I was worried how the course material would affect them, how their anxiety would show in terms of involvement in the group tasks and discussions. But I needn’t have worried, they are all brave survivors. Each member shared their personal stories to help each other understand them and their needs and how it affected their life. It was an amazing opportunity for group therapy and support and every single person deserved a gold star.

Thirdly, I’m currently undertaking an apprenticeship in Learning and Development and whilst e-learning is good and flexible and fits around your work / home life, the opportunity to watch a person deliver training with such confidence, fluency and control is an opportunity not to be missed. Bridgette was fantastic with her stories, keeping the difficult material and conversations flowing and at helping people learn from their experiences. I was completely in awe at not only how the training was delivered, but the gravity of the message being delivered successfully. I can only aspire to be that confident in the training I deliver.

My Facebook bio has always been “life’s a journey, not a destination” (Aerosmith), and never has it been more prevalent than now and watching the brave people I work with strive for better mental health and well being.

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