Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: In Conversation with Andrea from Mindful Employer

We’re releasing a series of interviews in a couple of different formats to mark Mental Health Awareness (MHA) Week this year. The first of which is an interview with Andrea Adey from Mindful Employer, and you’ll also see a couple of videos released later this week and this month with various special guests. Earlier this year, Andrea did a brilliant session with us at Optix HQ focused on Mental Resilience; we didn’t just learn some great tips from her, we also really opened up to each other as a team, which has helped us communicate with each other better during this time of such change. So without further ado.. Welcome Andrea!

Becky: Thanks for joining us this week Andrea. Let’s start by asking you what does this year’s MHA week theme of Kindness mean to you?

Andrea: I feel that this years’ MHA theme of Kindness is even more important and relevant in such difficult, unprecedented times.  We need to show compassion and understanding towards others more so than ever and equally, be kind to ourselves!  We must not forget that the world we knew literally changed overnight and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up that we have found this hard to adjust to.  Give ourselves a break… it has been a massive change which we have little or no control over.  Dr Radha’s 5Cs short video helps us to understand our reaction to COVID-19.

Becky: Completely agree! We’ve just got to take each day as it comes and remember ‘this too shall pass’. Can you tell us a little about Mindful Employer and what you do there?

Andrea: Mindful Employer is a UK wide initiative run by Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which was launched in 2004. Providing employers with easy access to professional workplace mental health training, information and advice; our goal is to help empower organisations – large or small – to take a lead in supporting the mental wellbeing of staff.

As part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Mindful Employer and its services are administered by a team of Mental Health and Employment Professionals. Combining our expertise across these sectors with our values of ‘Association’ and ‘Collaboration’ with employers, we provide a specialist approach to supporting mental health in the workplace.

Becky: Optix Solutions are a registered Mindful Employer which gives all our staff access to a wide range of support external to the business. I particularly love the little cards to keep in our purses and wallets with helpful phone numbers on!

Becky: We’re in a really interesting time for a conversation on this topic at the moment, but how do you think attitudes towards Mental Health and Awareness have changed over recent years?

Andrea: I think that gradually attitudes towards Mental Health Awareness has improved over recent years, as we see the topic having a greater profile within the media.  There are also initiatives such as Time to Change, Time to Talk, Tea and Talk to name but a few which companies are embracing more and more.  High profile celebrities and the young Royals have also really helped to reduce the stigma too.  Having said all that we still have a way to go, particularly in certain industries and service sectors.  Whilst men are definitely starting to talk more about their mental health, the suicide rate is still highest amongst men aged between 45-49 and men are 3 times more likely to die from suicide than women. (Samaritans.org 2018)

Becky: That’s such a sad statistic. We’ve actually got a live interview later this week that I’m hosting, and I’m really happy to report that joining me for the discussion are three men who are all tuned in to their own mental health as well as helping others with theirs; Matthew Jess, Ex Exeter Chiefs player and Ambassador for charity Give a Ruck, Pete Fairburn, Director of Morphsites and Alastair Banks, Director of Optix Solutions. Looking forward to hearing their stories!

Becky: How have you been looking after yourself and has your self care routine changed during this pandemic?

Andrea: I am generally a very positive person but this pandemic has certainly tested us all, and I have experienced ups and downs, which have sometimes taken me by surprise.  I have tried to keep a daily routine and have been lucky enough to still have been working from home.  I have also been helping my daughters with home learning…. less said about that the better! I have been out for a walk everyday mostly with my eldest daughter and I have read more whilst trying to keep in touch with my family and friends when time allows.  I’m actually not sure where the time goes!!

Becky: I know what you mean! Between working from home, walking my puppy and cooking meals, I haven’t been left with too much spare time. I completely agree about routine though, it’s so important for me. I really feel for those who have lost their jobs or are furloughed and struggling to fill their time. I’ve seen lot’s of people taking up new hobbies or starting side businesses though which is really impressive. I did read an article as well which was promoting an important message; yes it’s hard now, and easy to look back and worry about what we’ve lost, but it wasn’t all 100% positivity and productivity before, so you absolutely shouldn’t expect that of yourself now.

Becky: Are there any helpful behaviours that you’d recommend that we can all practice during this time?

Andrea: During this pandemic, some great resources have been made online, especially through Mind Matters. You simply fill in a very short questionnaire and they email you your own plan… really great! You will receive future emails too to update your plan.

Also don’t forget the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.

Becky: Thank you so much for being a part of this Andrea! Any final words of wisdom?

Andrea: Be kind to yourself and take one day at a time!

 

Becky Brennan

Becky is the Head of Learning and Business Success at Optix - she manages the Optix Digital Academy, all our events and supports Alastair with sales and new business opportunities. Becky has a digital agency background, having coordinated strategic digital projects for household names across the UK.

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