This Is Me- Employees open up to their colleagues on their personal experiences with mental health
I have just come out of one of the most heart-warming wellness workshops I have ever been to in the workplace, designed to begin to change the tide on the stigma associated with mental health.
My former employer, global recruitment firm the SR Group, asked me to come back and chair a panel of employees who had volunteered to open up about their own personal experiences with mental health. It was an extension of the “This Is Me” campaign we had ran the summer before, where employees had posted their stories on the intranet alongside their names.
Four employees had willingly put themselves forward in the hope that by sharing their story it will help their colleagues feel that it is perfectly normal not to feel OK and that everybody struggles.
The boardroom you see below was packed out (a sign that everyone can relate to this topic) and with deep courage, each employee gave a very raw and authentic account of their own experiences with mental health and then shared practical advice on what has helped them and what advice they would give to anyone in the room who might be suffering.
This was an internal event and one which I encourage every business to strongly consider. Starting small and without forcing it, I recommend asking if any colleagues would like to share their story, even if that means posting an anonymous story on the intranet. It costs nothing and has a huge impact.
From my experience, when you start talking about how you are feeling, you start to realise you are part of a whole community of people feeling the same! Talking about your emotions and struggles has the most healing effect. Equally listening to someone who wants to talk can be more comforting and cathartic for them than you will ever know.
I urge more people to reach out to someone who you suspect has something going on or is not acting like themselves. By offering to go for a walk with them or being a shoulder to cry on you can make all the difference in the world.
If you are struggling right now and feel there is no way out, remember that there is. For instant support I recommend the Samaritans (116 123) who are on the end of the phone 24/7 and mental health charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/)