I’m fortunate to work for a company which places a great deal of importance on the mental health of employees. The Wellbeing team in our HR department are fantastic. They regularly arrange lunchtime catch-ups for staff to understand what support is available and to provide an opportunity for us to talk in a safe space. They also bring in a wide range of guest speakers to talk about various mental and physical health issues. They are aware of the broader picture and regularly line these sessions into national initiatives such as Mental Health Week, National Carers week, and various focus days looking at physical health (cancer awareness etc). They have recently started a campaign called ‘My Whole Self’, which encourages people who are happy to do so to share their own mental health experiences. This has led to a number of posts from staff covering a wide range of issues and has been very well received. It has encouraged more people to talk and has resulted in a good number of people sharing detail which they previously wouldn’t have felt comfortable addressing. The campaign continues to grow with more people contributing each week.
The fundamental point I’m trying to get to is that it’s good to talk. Not everyone has such a good support network in the workplace but if not, consider other opportunities you may have. Do you have close friends who you can confide in whilst knowing there is complete trust and empathy? Do you have family members who you can talk too? Are there any social media groups or local forums / groups you can get involved with? Those involving ‘real’ people and in-the-flesh conversations do still exist! Finding an opportunity to talk, whether virtually or in person, is hugely beneficial. It is cathartic when talking about yourself – that age-old feeling of letting off some steam and unburdening really is helpful. Also make sure you listen equally as much, wherever possible. Hearing about what others are going through and simply being there to listen is a wonderful thing to do and can make such a difference to others.
Support networks are vital and if you can find these with people you know, love and trust, it can make such a huge difference in our lives and the lives of others. Conversations don’t need to be badged as talking about mental health either – unfortunately, there is still huge stigma attached to those two words. Simply catching up with someone and asking how they are feeling will have the same result. It’s surprising how many of us secretly need those conversations too. I believe many of us have mental health issues – it’s just that some of us may not see them in that way (more of this in a future post…).
So, if you feel it would be beneficial to talk but have never done so, or perhaps you may have done but some time ago, please do try and find someone suitable. It can help more than you’ll ever know.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe and be kind when you can.