Mental Health and Work Summit – ‘How are you feeling today?’
Earlier this week, our colleague Jess went along to the Mental Health and Work Summit at the ACC Liverpool.
Here are her thoughts from the day.
How are you? How are you feeling today?
I want you to pause and think about how you are, before moving on to read about my time at the Mental Health and Work Summit this week. One of the little things I learnt was asking how people are, not once, but twice. As you are likely to get more than ‘Fine thanks, you?’ on the second response. This was a tip from Peter Cheese, CEO of the Institute of Personnel and Development and it’s something we can all do, in our work and personal life.
The event was held at the astounding ACC building in Liverpool, a place I had never visited before. The view of the waterfront and the large space set a calm tone and reflected the openness nature of the event. There was no ‘elephant in the room’ – we were here to discuss and share experiences around mental health.
The event was thought provoking, and by the early morning interval, myself and my colleagues found ourselves sharing our feelings of nerves and anxiety we experienced that morning, prior to attending the event. We chatted about this and questioned why? Was it because we’d not been in this networking environment since pre-pandemic? Was it the lack of sleep or being stuck in traffic? Regardless of the route cause, here we are, talking about it, feeling a sense of relief and relatability. That’s why this event was important.
Trust was a reoccurring element of the event and something that Katie Sharrock, Global HR Business partner at Unilever, spoke about in such a down-to-earth way. Having experienced the grief of suicide 9 years ago, Katie was on a mission to make a change. Katie exemplified how anyone can contribute to raise awareness and prevent poor mental health in the workplace. Katie started by looking at what was already in place in her organisation, researched what training was on offer externally and enrolled all her staff that same day. Katie now has a fully established wellbeing team and from my understanding, instead of showcasing their ‘strategy’ and what they intend to do, they just do. I thought it was interesting Katie mentioning how she doesn’t think this should necessarily fall within the HR remit, this is something I personally agree with too having experienced working within a HR/Wellbeing team within the NHS during the pandemic.
I have experienced work-related stress, and as a new employee at The Women’s Organisation, it’s probably something I was not planning on disclosing, but hearing Jake Mills talk about ‘chasing the stigma’, I understand just how important it is to be part of that race. From the short time I have worked at The Women’s Organisation, I trust that they value their employee’s mental health, not only by their policies of flexibility and being a dog friendly workplace (I know, how cool?) but also by their values being at the core of their actions. I have been provided with the tools I need to do my job; I have felt included in discussions, I have taken part in development training such as ‘The Women’s Power Programme’, ‘Unconscious Bias’, confidence building workshops and team social events.
To conclude the day, podcast presenter Mick Coyle and writer and director of BBC’s ‘The Responder’ Tony Schumacher, recorded a live episode of their show ‘Mental Health Mondays’. I sat in absolute awe at the honesty and the vulnerability of the conversation. The BBC series was based on Tonys lived experience. He talked us through the breakdown of his mental health, how he captured this on screen, how he felt having it ‘out there’ and where he is at with it now. I sat reflecting that, here we are complete opposites in genetics and life experience, yet I can identify with his feelings of turmoil, denial, and desperation to feel ‘normal’ in these moments.
It was fantastic to represent The Women’s Organisation and was a great way to enter 2022’s mental health awareness week. I feel inspired to work with my organisation to support each other’s mental health and wellbeing, as well those who access our services. I plan to attend future mental health events, actively raise awareness and chase the stigma. How about you?
Thanks and take care,