Mental Health Awareness Week
As a business we have invested in a team of over 60 Mental Health First Aiders based across our UK sites to support and signpost our people. Mental health services in England alone received a record 4.6 million referrals throughout 2022 (up 22% from 2019), and with 8 million people in the UK experiencing an anxiety disorder at any given time, it’s crucial that our people know where they can turn in a time of need.
This Mental Health Awareness Week we’re proud to introduce three of our brilliant Mental Health First Aiders.
Adam Baines, Elton Glass Health & Safety Manager, is all too aware of how important mental health is in the workplace.
In Adam’s role, both physical and mental health tie in together, and he sees a lot of synchronicities. “Some of what we do is proactive – we work wherever possible to help our people avoid accidents in the first place. We make changes to equipment, to PPE, to policies…whatever we can do to ensure our people feel safe. If you feel safe at work, it’s one less thing to worry about.”
Adam spent fifteen years volunteering in the mountain rescue service so is no stranger to how mental health problems can impact people. What he has noticed however, is the big shift in attitudes around it. “When I first started rescuing, we didn’t talk about what we’d just been through together. In fact, on our bus rides back home, we’d talk about absolutely anything but. Over the years, it’s become normalised to talk, we’re encouraged to open up, and I’ve seen first hand how much of a difference that can make to people’s health and mindsets.”
Emilia Wlodkowska has been with the business for a decade and is a passionate advocate for mental health.
“First and foremost, I wanted to improve my knowledge about mental health as there is still a great deal of stigma attached to these challenges in mainstream society. I wanted to become a mental health first aider as Encirc has been home for me for almost ten years and I truly believe in our company’s purpose, ‘Great People, Great Place, Great Future’ and I wanted to be a part of it. If you want your business to be a great place to work, it can’t just be a workplace. It needs to offer more than that, and Encirc investing in wellbeing of our employees is a proof that we’re working to achieve a bigger mission, and the support is there for all of us.”
When it comes to her own mental health, Emilia tries to prioritise a healthy routine. “Personally, I am trying to manage my own health through 4 pillars: sleep, nutrition, movement and mindfulness. It really does play a huge part in how you feel mentally. I have found my favourite work outs and build my routines practicing yoga and going on 15,000 step walks. This really helps me to pause, connect with myself and clear my mind.
The main thing that Emilia wants people to remember is that they shouldn’t suffer alone. “When we are stuck in our own minds, we tend to overestimate our problems and underestimate our ability to deal with them. Reach out to loved ones, to friends, to Mental Health First Aiders and share your thoughts. It can feel so difficult to do sometimes, but honestly, struggling does not mean you are weak, it means you are human, and we all have tough times. Don’t go through those tough times alone.”
With five years of experience working as Cold End Operator, Trevor Williams is using his lived experiences of mental health struggles to inspire others to seek help.
“I have PTSD and have suffered with depression for many years. At one point, I did attempt to take my own life, and all of this is why I wanted to become a Mental Health First Aider. We need to break the stigma around mental health, particularly with men, and get people talking. No two experiences are the same, but we’ve all lived through something and sometimes it’s easier to talk to an outsider rather than someone very close to you.”
In the past, Trevor often felt like he couldn’t open up about his experiences, so he knows first hand what a positive difference the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders could make for Encirc.
“It’s so important for businesses to invest in mental health support, because it shows those people who feel they can’t talk about what they’re experiencing that they have somewhere to turn. I will never judge you, my life story is very much ‘been there, done that, got the t shirt’, so whilst I may not have walked in your shoes, I’ve walked down the same road on my own journey, and I’m here to help.”
When it comes to grounding himself and keeping his mind in a good place, Trevor highly recommends getting outdoors. “It might be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling low, but for me, there is nothing better than going out walking, caving, exploring waterfalls. Being out in nature reaffirms for me where I have come from and helps me reconnect with my faith.”
Trevor, and the rest of our MHFA team, are readily available to chat with colleagues in need of support.