Mental health is something I feel very passionate about, which is why when our two ASE Mental Health Champions suggested we dedicate time to discussing this important topic as a team, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
A small group of our team spent time figuring out what activities we could arrange to raise awareness and get our team thinking and talking more openly about our mental health. We decided to have a week of focussed opportunities where individuals could join or not depending on their desire to share, learn and availability.
So, what did we do for the week?
Monday opened with a conversation with our Mental Health Champions, offering some insight into their role, what good and poor mental health looks like, why this week is important and what we had planned. This then paved the way for an opportunity where individuals could share their coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. We were aware that we didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable with sharing what they found worked for them, so we facilitated it in a way where people could anonymously add their thoughts and ideas throughout the week in the hope that people could engage with it, striking up conversations and absorbing different techniques.
Tuesday offered time and space to take a walk, something simple that took people away from their desk, computer and workload without being overly strenuous. The constant pressure of trying to meet all your targets can have a huge impact on your stress and anxiety levels so we wanted everyone to remember that taking a little time out and just breath is ok. The walk offered people that chance to switch off from work, have some fresh air and chat with each other along the way.
Wednesday was a big one, we again decided on a walk, however this time our sights were set on something a bit more challenging and with nicer views. A group of us got together to walk up the Wrekin in Shropshire, walking through the forest, climbing to the top and looking out over the glorious hills of Shropshire, a perfect way to destress from the day. We all, through gasps of breath, laughed, chatted and spent time with each other on a personal level. It allowed us to step away from everything that was going on at work or home and just focus on that moment in time.
Thursday was used as a chance for people to step away from their day and reboot. I have previously meditated to myself, using the time to clear my mind and think about all the things that have clogged up my head throughout the day and resolve them. This used to be my way of getting a better night’s sleep, as I found my head was always more active in the evening. I shared this technique with the team, we sat on the grass and everyone just did what they needed to do to clear their mind. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of, seeing everyone just take the time to sit with themselves, listening to the sound around, relaxing and then getting ready to continue their day. I can appreciate this isn’t for everyone, but it was great to see so many people giving it a go and getting involved, because until we try these things we don’t know how we’ll feel.
Friday was our final day and possibly the most fun. After consulting the team on the options, we decided to play a game like netball, but with our own take. Everyone had great fun, there was a competitive element, team working, exercise and lots of laughs along the way, it felt like the perfect way to end the week. Competitive sport is a great way to help clear your mind because your focus is elsewhere and you’re also working with people, having to consider the whole team. The game made for a fantastic way to relieve stress.
The whole week had been about raising awareness of mental health issues, getting people to open up more, talk to each other and spend more time together. The only way that this is possible is by making time for each other. So, if someone seems quiet or different than normal, don’t avoid them, talk to them because it may make it easier for them to open up to you. Although we had a week focussed on activities, it’s something we want to continue, it doesn’t end there. It’s time to talk.
Just ‘cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there (Chester Bennington – One More Light)