To mark Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, we spent five minutes chatting with Jonathan Bentley, our Head of Client Partnerships, who has recently trained to become a Mental Health First Aider.
What inspired you to become a Mental Health First Aider?
Ten years ago, a colleague approached me and asked for my help. They were in crisis. Work pressures, a relationship breakdown, coupled with a family history of suicide, they were hours away from taking their life. Thankfully, we were able to put immediate measures in place to save their life.
I refer to this experience frequently because at the time there was no formal training, no escalation policy, we just did what we could.
Then sadly, a friend took his life in 2019 and I saw the impact it had on his family and our mutual friends. We didn’t understand why, we didn’t see the signs and those feelings are still raw today.
Following that incident, I made the decision to better educate myself about Mental Health and how I could support those close to me.
Since then, 2 playing members at my local rugby club took their lives during 2020, which has served as a painful reminder that we all need to do so much more in this space.
At CSM we have trained Mental Health First Aiders to act as a point of contact to identify, understand and help their colleagues if they are experiencing ill mental health or a challenging time. Our Mental Health Ambassadors, who raise awareness, understanding and decrease the stigma of Mental Health across the business, are also there to reach out to.
With lockdowns easing, what do you think are the biggest challenges in the workplace?
As our offices begin to open back up over the next few weeks and we look to return to the new normal, people will naturally feel anxious about this change.
We need to remind ourselves about the positives of returning to work. Seeing our colleagues and clients in person, separating work and home life once again, maintaining that new work/life balance and establishing a new, or return to a familiar, former routine.
This last year has given many of us the time to understand and better manage our Mental Health. Maintaining that discipline as we return to work is important. Making time to keep up those new positive habits (Yoga, Mindfulness, Running, Walking the dog, Taking the kids to school etc…). As we better understand the new flexibility in our new working lives, using that non commute time will help “book end” the working day.
What does Mental Health Awareness Week mean for you?
10th – 16th May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. This year’s theme is Nature. Outdoor spaces have a real positive impact on all our lives and this past year especially. I’d encourage everyone to take time to read up on the rich array of support resources online and get out there and enjoy nature. Share your experiences on social media using the hashtag #ConnectWithNature. If you are experiencing a challenging time, I’d encourage you to seek help. Please don’t suffer in silence.
Click here for some useful mental health resources.