Working for a mental health charity, I’m very fortunate to work for a cause I feel really passionate about, as well as an organisation that is committed to supporting the wellbeing of all members of staff, including those struggling with mental health problems. Personally, I find it very rewarding when I speak at an event and someone comes up to me afterwards to say that they now want to take this forward in their workplace.
Energising your team
I’m deeply committed to mental health which helps me maintain my energy levels but I think it is important to ensure I have a good work/life balance no matter how much I love my job and that I role model this for my team. Because I work alongside so many talented and committed people to try to tackle the many injustices still faced by people with mental health problems, energising staff is rarely a problem. Of course, heading up a busy team means there are times when we’re tired and might be more prone to poor mental health and some of the problems associated with that, such as finding it harder to make decisions or prioritise tasks. Our workplace culture is one where staff generally feel able to talk openly and honestly if and when they’re struggling – including with energy levels – and know that colleagues and managers will help support them and come up with joint solutions.
People with mental health problems can and do make a valuable contribution to the workplace, but, like everyone else, there are times when they might struggle with energy and motivation. At Mind, approximately half of our staff have first-hand experience of a mental health problem, and we deliberately try to recruit and retain experts by experience. All managers at Mind have mental health awareness training so that they are better able to spot colleagues who might be struggling with their mental health. We also encourage everyone to draw up Wellness Action Plans jointly with their managers. These useful living documents are useful in helping identify what helps people stay well at work as well as specific symptoms, triggers and support needs and agreed solutions. Because they’re tailored to each member of staff, these plans can be very effective as they recognise the fluctuating nature of mental health problems and the way in which mental health affects everyone differently. Even more importantly, they can facilitate constructive and supportive conversations about managing mental ill health.
Managing your own wellbeing
Everyone is different, so what works for one person in terms of managing their wellbeing won’t necessarily work for another.
In terms of how I manage mine, I try to work sensible hours and I make sure I take a proper lunch break. I also refresh my ‘to do’ list before I go home each night so I can truly switch off once I have left the office. I try to work from home one day a week so I am able to focus on the really key issues I need to progress. Another useful approach I have adopted is keeping a ‘success log’ where each day I capture what has gone well. This then helps me when I am having a tough time or when something hasn’t worked out as I had hoped.
In terms of how I manage my wellbeing outside of work, I like to spend time with my friends so I feel connected to the people I care about. I also keep a gratitude journal so I am reflecting on the positive things in my life.
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