At work I’m a Wellbeing Champion. That’ someone who, as a trained Mental Health First Aider, is an advocate and go to for colleagues that might need some advice, help or support with their general wellbeing with a focus on mental health. Its a role I volunteer to do. I don’t get paid for it.
Work this week has prompted me to write this gentle reminder to you all to look after yourself and serves as a self-check too.
Wellbeing is an all encompassing term which, for me, refers to our physical and mental health equally. We are dialled in to deal with our physical health issues. We can easily see a doctor if we need to or if things are worse be taken to A&E for example. We’re not so good at coping or dealing with our mental health problems. Thats a combination of stigma, education and the fact we simply can’t see it sometimes.
Statistically, 1 in 4 of my friends, colleagues and family have mental health issues. Read that again and take it in.
Imagine this. We all have an imaginary container inside us, its a stress container. It fills up like a bath every day from the taps of stress our daily lives throw at us. Home, work, money, relationships, anything we all have some stress and our own triggers but for some those taps are bigger, faster or the container is smaller. If we don’t try to empty it, it will overflow and its then that symptoms will manifest themselves. Could be you feel low, it could be a bit of anxiety, it could be depression or it could be so bad you think about hurting yourself or worse. Thats when you need to do something. If you have a cut that goes septic, you don’t just leave it, you seek help. Its no different for your mental health. If you have symptoms, you seek help. This could be just talking to someone, seeing a doc, taking medication or going to A&E if you are in crisis.
Mental health is massive and what we should be focussing on more and more!
My point is, its so, so important to be proactive and not just reactive. We’re told to look after our body’s. You know, food, diet, exercise etc to try and prevent injury and illness. We’re treated like children about it and it’s absolutely no different with your mental health but what do we hear about that? Yes, times are changing but its too slow. Be proactive. Recognise what helps you deal with your lows. It might be exercise, sport, reading, a hobby, the outdoors or just something simple like less screen time. Anything that works for you. Make time for you and yourself and keep emptying or pulling the plug on that stress container to keep your mental health in check. Do that and I promise you, you will be a happier, more rounded and content person.
I don’t want to be a preacher or some virtue-signalling idiot. Mental Health is a real passion of mine and I care about it a lot. This was supposed to be a short piece lol, so I’m sorry if you’re still with me. I made a promise to myself this year that I would check on colleagues more at work. I felt as the Wellbeing Champ it was incumbent on me to do so and I have. Its working. I’m being more proactive about it. I’m looking for the signs, I’m breaking down the barriers, I’m trying to make talking about it normal. I’ve made some progress too and had some wins off the back of that approach. Its heart breaking to see and hear the turmoil some people are in and I want to help them.
For a big company like Halfords, treating mental health as they currently do with some trained volunteers dotted around the business is admirable but its also a false economy. Absence because of mental health is a real issue that isn’t going away and just the tip of the iceberg. Not even the tip. They need to invest in more training now. Bring it in house. Train a trainer who can raise awareness and arm managers with the skills needed to recognise and deal with it. Again, its about being proactive about it. Happy people are productive people! Fact.
If 500 staff work at the support centre, 125 of them may suffer from mental health issues. Wellbeing Champs do not even scratch the surface.
So finally, to everyone I know. The 1 in 4 of you in fact. Its ok not be ok. There is no shame in asking for help and there is no shame in you asking if your friends and family are ok either.
Do it. Ask someone today and tell me what happened. I’d love to hear from you.