Mental health matters. You matter.

By Lorna Gough. January 2022

How important is yours and your team’s mental health and wellbeing to your organisation?

Hopefully it’s top of the priority list.

However, wanting it to be top of the list, and actually making time to ensure steps are taken to protect and enhance your own, and your team’s mental health may not always feel easy.

One in four adults in England have at some time been diagnosed with mental illnesses, while one in five, report experiencing mental health issues without a diagnosis.1 Workplaces are seeing ever increasing stress levels, especially during the last two years negotiating a way through the pandemic.

It’s vital that we all play our part in helping to keep ourselves and our colleagues as mentally healthy as possible.

The World Health Organisation 2014 statement defines mental health as:

“A state of wellbeing in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.”

Here at CCVS we take health and wellbeing seriously.

We look out for each other.

We make sure we have occasional (Covid permitting) face to face meet ups, with a walk (usually ending with a cuppa and cake!)

We have weekly coffee time catch ups, where we chat for 15 to 30 minutes about random every day, non work-related things. (Recent topics have included the fact that such a thing as penguin covered gaffer tape exists; luxury dog beds; cats sleeping in flowerpots; and the childhood trick of ‘apple-pie-ing’ sibling’s beds. Readers of a more mature age may know what I’m talking about here, it’s a bed which, as a practical joke has one of the sheets folded back on itself so the person cannot straighten their legs when they get into bed – sorry little brother! Being the only boy in the family, with three sisters, my brother put up with a lot!)

CCVS has recently taken two positive steps to improve how we look after ourselves and our team.

  1. We have created and implemented an organisational health and wellbeing strategy which states:

A healthy workplace is where everyone feels able to share that they’re having a bad day, with no feeling of stigma, where spending 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes, away from a desk for self-care is an investment in wellbeing, which will enhance work in the long run.  

A workplace where the team spend time together, if they feel comfortable doing so, taking part in occasional activities to benefit wellbeing and build strength as a healthy team. (Demonstrated by our recent participation in the volunteer tree planting session with Cambridge Past, Present and Future)

The strategy lays out ways in which we can look after ourselves, and what we can do if we’re having a bad day. Every week we share a wellbeing tip in our Slack (communication platform) channel. There is no obligation to take part, or to feedback. We agree to be non-judgemental, respectful, and maintain confidentiality.

The wellbeing tips include suggestions such as :

  • Sit outside and listen for 10 sounds 
  • Sit outside and look for 20 things 
  • Pick up a book and read for 15 minutes 
  • Write down what has gone well for you this week 
  • Do 15 minutes of exercise 

Spending time away from the screen, and from work tasks, concentrating mindfully on something else for a short period of time is a way of relieving stress. Doing something enjoyable like listening to the birds outside can be a real mood booster.

Encouraging the team to take breaks and emphasising that taking time for ourselves is not only permitted, but positively encouraged, gives us all confidence that our health is important, and that it’s ok to invest time in staying well. What a wonderful positive message that gives to us all, that we matter, our health and our wellbeing matters

2. One of our team has completed the Mental Health First Aider certificate training. That’s me.

Over the last two weeks I’ve attended the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England course. MHFA England has a goal to train 1 in 10 adults in the UK in Mental Health First Aid. The number currently stands at 1 in 56. Good progress is being made, but there is still a way to go. The more people that understand, and can support those struggling with poor mental health, the better.

The course, which is either two full days, or four half day sessions, plus a number of hours of additional coursework, empowers attendees to provide initial support to those developing mental health issues or in mental health crisis.

A mix of tutorials, discussions, activities, and case studies make the course interesting and interactive. Even though some of the content is emotive, it is covered in a sensitive way with no pressure to take part in any activities you may find upsetting.

I thoroughly recommend the course to anyone feeling undecided about it and encourage organisations to consider enrolling a team member onto a MHFA course.

In the meantime, the MHFA England website, contains a wealth of resources and information for all.

If you would like to know more about our health and wellbeing strategy, and what you can do for your own team and organisation, to promote better mental health, do get in touch:

A mentally healthy community, is a productive and creative community.2

1MHFA England statistics.

2MHFA England quote