Mental Health Awareness Week 2020
May 18, 2020
May 18, 2020
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s celebrate kindness even in the smallest form
During times like these, protecting our mental health is central to us coping with and recovering from this pandemic. With one in four people affected by a mental health issue at some point in their lives, it’s important to practice kindness not only in our personal lives but also with our colleagues.
Once we start discussing mental health issues and engaging in meaningful conversations with the people around us, we soon realise we are not alone.
At Stantec, we have many Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) who are trained in supporting our employees’ wellbeing. We asked our Mental Health First Aiders what inspired them to become an MHFA, what drives their work, and their thoughts on the importance of mental health.
Having had time off work seven years ago due to mental health issues, alongside running the Stantec UK Wellbeing Programme, I feel passionate about using my enthusiasm and experience to help and support others struggling with their mental health. Becoming an MHFA has given me the knowledge and the confidence to support colleagues, friends and family at a time of need. For me, this is incredibly rewarding.
Right now, the mental health of everyone is being challenged. It is incredibly important that we highlight this, increase awareness and encourage everyone to open up and ask for help when they need it. I love the theme of kindness for this year’s campaign. During this time of a global pandemic, we are seeing so many acts of kindness and it is incredible how much these pull together communities, friends and families and, how they can positively affect mental health.
The main inspiration for me becoming an MHFA was to help reduce the stigma around mental health issues and raise awareness.
Through the training, I gained a good grounding of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. It was a real education and quite emotional. I learned how to offer basic support in the correct way. This is what I value the most as I can use this training in the workplace or elsewhere. Mental Health Awareness Week is vitally important. It helps in bringing down walls and educates others on what mental health issues are.
I was inspired to become an MHFA after seeing the lives of people around me being impacted due to suffering with their mental health. Not being comfortable with your mental health can really have negative impacts on an individual and those close to them. I wanted to be in a better position to understand and listen should someone need me to.
I value the trust that people have in me, if and when they decide they want to talk. It’s never easy to start these conversations, so for people to open-up to you lets you know there is a level of trust there.
It’s never easy to talk about these things but we should always try. Especially when times are tough it is important to share the load and to know you are not on your own. It’s also worth remembering there isn’t always a solution, but just sharing and having someone listen and understand, can lighten the pressure you are feeling.
I have suffered from mental health issues myself in the past and talking about my problems with others has always been most helpful for me. I’ve also supported others in the past who were facing a difficult time, but I never knew if the support I was giving was the right support. Becoming an MHFA means I can help and support with confidence now. Knowing that I can be there to listen with confidence and help to make a difference for somebody when they need it the most is really important to me.
This week is so important for so many reasons. We are in a unique moment in time right now and it’s testing everybody in different ways. It’s important we keep mental health at the forefront and ensure we talk to each other, support each other and most importantly, listen non judgementally.
Kindness is the perfect theme this year, we are seeing so many acts of kindness and we’re connecting and speaking with people we may not have spoken to before, our neighbours for example. The positive energy kindness creates in this negative time is really something to behold.
Although awareness around mental health is much higher today, it is still not as commonly talked about as other forms of illness. When it was suggested that the business train individuals to become MHFAs, I was keen to be involved. As my role in HR is all around people, I felt it would help me enormously if I could undertake the training to assist with conversations with employees, and also to understand mental health more and how I could support those individual affected by it.
Having an understanding of different types of mental health concerns, and how they can impact an individual's daily life, has helped me and our employees. They know I have undergone the training, and they can talk openly and honestly about their issues.
I think it is important to keep talking about mental health and just to be kind and listen to people, sometimes that is all someone really needs!