Published date: 18 May 2021

Why we should be talking about Mental Health

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Property Services (NHSPS) launched a wellbeing programme to look after colleagues during such a challenging time.

As part of this, NHSPS are currently running monthly, live, wellbeing webinars for all colleagues at NHSPS. These webinars are designed to provide colleagues with the tools they need to look after their wellbeing more effectively and they cover topics such as nutrition, mindfulness, preventing burnout, mental health awareness, managing anxiety and building resilience. 

Mel Crate, Founding Director of Luminate, is a regular host of these webinars so we took a moment to talk to her about the importance of talking about mental health, especially at work...

An interview with...

Why is Mental Health Awareness Week so important to you?

Awareness days and weeks around mental health are a really important starting point for opening up the conversation around mental health and further breaking down the stigma. Although we should be doing this throughout the year, it really helps to have a bit of a push and to encourage these open discussions to be happening. It’s an opportunity to bring mental health to the forefront of our awareness and to take some time to reflect on how we can better look after ourselves here. 

Why do you talk about mental wealth and what does mental wealth mean to you?

When we talk about mental health, there is often still such a focus on mental illness. Although it’s important not to shy away from discussions and learning around mental illness, I feel it’s beneficial to focus the conversation towards thinking about preventative care of our mental health (rather than recovery from illness). The term mental wealth to me means being in good mental health and really thriving, rather than just surviving. At one point in my life, it was a state which I thought I’d never reach, but I’m happy to say that with the right support, self-care and treatment, I eventually got there. 

Why is it important for organisations to be talking more openly about mental health?

We spend a lot of time at work and our workplace communities have the potential to be supportive and trusting if we can foster the right environments. Unfortunately we are having to erase decades of stigma and discrimination against those experiencing mental illness and in order for us to do this, we need to start by having open conversations. It’s so important to acknowledge we all have mental health so we are all susceptible to mental illness. If we normalise this fact, it makes it easier for people to come forward when they’re struggling and therefore get the support that they need. 

What pieces of advice can you give someone working from home improve their mental wellbeing?

We need to work extra hard to connect with others when we’re working from home as we’re likely to have less social contact than usual. This might be by phone, video call or by meeting up with a friend for a walk, where possible. As humans, we are social animals by nature, so connecting with other people is so vital for our wellbeing. I’d also recommend taking regular breaks and trying to be disciplined with switching off at the end of the working day. I try to end my work day with a walk around the block or some physical exercise, which helps me close off the working day and creates some separation between work and my personal life. 

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.