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Nurturing Happy Minds at Bywaters

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a fantastic opportunity to chat about how we can create happier and healthier workplaces for everyone. It’s no secret that mental health is a growing conversation these days, and with good reason. With around 1 in 7 people having mental health problems in the workplace, and 51% of long-term sick leave being due to stress, depression, or anxiety, we need to do everything we can to ensure our staff’s wellbeing and make sure that this is a good workplace for all.

Here at Bywaters, we’re committed to making a positive difference. We want to ensure our staff feels supported and valued, creating a truly positive work environment for everyone.

That is why we’re proud to have a volunteer team of 10 dedicated Mental Health First Aiders on hand to support their colleagues.

In this article, we speak with Virginia Anderson, who, aside from being our Logistics Coordinator, is one of our amazing Mental Health First Aiders, and is passionate about creating a culture of wellbeing at Bywaters. In this article, we learn more about her role, her team and the positive impact that they have in the office.

Virginia Anderson Mental Health First Aiders

What is it like to be a Mental Health First Aider?

Well… Being a Mental Health First Aider is like being a champion for mental wellbeing at work! We’re here for our colleagues to be a supportive shoulder and hear them out when they’re feeling overwhelmed, have some concerns or just need a chat. We’re trained to recognise signs that someone might be struggling, to make our fellow workmates feel heard and to offer non-judgemental support.

We’re by no means therapists, we can’t diagnose people or give therapy, but you can think of us as friendly first responders for mental health. If it’s needed, we can also help point folks in the right direction if they need more professional help. It’s all about creating a safe space where people feel comfortable opening up, knowing they won’t be judged or seen differently. It’s about looking out for one another.

Who is it for?

Our team is here for everyone! Whether you’re just having a difficult day, or are struggling with something more serious or personal, we’re here to lend an ear to our workmates. We’re here for anyone who needs someone to talk to while keeping it all discrete and confidential.

Why did you decide to become a Mental Health First Aider?

Honestly, I became a Mental Health First Aider because I believe in creating a positive and supportive work environment for everyone. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and I wanted to have a positive impact in my workplace.

That’s why I joined this team! I love doing whatever I can to help others whenever possible.

What are some of the benefits of having Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace?

The way I see it, our team brings in a lot of benefits to our workplace aside from what we discussed so far.

Firstly, just having Mental Health First Aiders around sends a message that mental health matters in our office. It lets people feel more at ease to talk about these things, making it easier for people to seek help if necessary.

Also, we’re able to direct people to further support if it’s needed, which can make a huge difference in their wellbeing.

Lastly, we have the chance to accommodate common concerns, which helps to create a happier, healthier office! Whenever we meet, we raise common issues and concerns others have expressed (while keeping everyone’s names anonymous), and we work with Human Resources and other departments to accommodate any necessary needs. That way, we’re glad to be able to create a more positive work environment for everyone.

Can you describe the training you received to become a Mental Health First Aider?

The process of becoming a Mental Health First Aider varies by company… For example, some popular accreditation platforms include MHFA or FutureQual . At Bywaters, you start off with an initial 2 to 3-day certification course with one of these accreditors.

Throughout our course, we are guided through how to respond as Mental Health First Aiders by professional emergency responders.

The course is then followed by a rigorous assessment to earn your certificate… Considering the period, I remember studying quite a lot for it!

In your opinion, how can we promote mental health awareness in our company?

It’s funny that you mention this, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re going to be hosting a Cake and Coffee Icebreaker for new staff to invite them to learn more about what we do. This is just for us to put our faces out and remind people that we’re here for them if they ever need us… And on top of that, there’s going to be free cake for everyone!

Having said this, I’d say a key way to promote discussing mental health at work is for everyone generally to keep maintaining our culture of empathy, and to keep making people feel comfortable to talk about this at Bywaters!

And lastly, what do you love about being a Mental Health First Aider at Bywaters?

Generally, I love making a positive impact here. I’ve been at Bywaters for some time now, I almost see it like a second family… I love this place, especially its people and it makes me happy knowing I can go the extra mile to help my workmates and see them thrive.

Mental Health First Aiders 2

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to give a special thanks to our Mental Health First Aiders for their amazing work. We appreciate your team’s dedication to supporting colleagues and fostering a positive workplace environment.


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