Published date: 12 May 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week: A moment with Gemma Wilson

Supporting and investing in our mental and physical health has never been more important as the COVID pandemic has created significant challenges. There has been and will continue to be an impact on mental health for the population in general but particularly for NHS.

NHS Property Services is aiming to create a workplace where we are all more aware of our own mental health, where we know how to proactively look after our wellbeing and support others.

That’s why NHSPS has partnered with Mental Health First Aid England to train colleagues across NHS Property Services to identify the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and encourage each other in accessing the right support. We are delighted to have 18 Mental Health First Aiders from all areas and levels of NHSPS to provide non-judgmental and confidential support and guidance to anyone who may be struggling with mental or emotional distress.

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is loneliness so we are reflecting on how we experience loneliness at different times in our lives. Gemma Wilson, a Mental Health First Aider at NHSPS has shared how exercise helped her combat loneliness during lockdown...

I’d consider myself an outgoing, sociable person who can interact with people from all walks of life. I’ve always had a strong network of friends and never would have thought I was lonely. That is, until the pandemic hit!

As a single mother of a teenager who rarely speaks, conversation at home became non-existent, apart from the weekly Facetime I had with my best friend who lives 40 miles away.

Netflix and Disney+ became my pals, however after a matter of days and several box sets, the enjoyment wore off and I found myself in my own head space - something I didn’t enjoy. I became obsessed with the daily government Covid updates and this led to further Covid googling.

I had my work and I was grateful for that; it gave me a purpose to get up, as people needed me and they needed quick decisions which kept my head “above water”. Evenings and weekends became long and like many thousands of others, the four walls of my home seemed uninviting.

I decided I had to do something and, as a fitness fanatic, I contacted some friends from the gym and we set up Saturday morning online workouts. This was great for all of us! I also set up circuits in my garden, so I could complete a daily workout, and this kept my mind focused. To my surprise my teenage “non-conversational” daughter also got involved, which was fabulous!

So, I suppose, exercise was my way of dealing with the loneliness and my message to anyone feeling alone, would be: You’re not.

We have a great team of Mental Health First Aiders at NHSPS. If you feel like you want to talk, or get some guidance on ways to deal with any aspect of mental health, contact one of us and we can help.

Colleague wellbeing handbook

We’d like to create a workplace where we are all more aware of our own mental health, where we know how to proactively look after our wellbeing, and where we are well equipped to have conversations around mental health and support each other. Take a look at our colleague handbook to find out how we're supporting our people.