Promoting mental health awareness at the Co-op
By Tanya Dorrity, Community Officer
It's important to be able to talk about mental health, as statistics show that one in four of us will be affected at some point.
For us at the Co-op, World Mental Health Day seemed like the ideal time to invite local mental health organisations, Jersey Recovery College and Guernsey Mind, to our stores and offices to talk about mental health with colleagues.
Jersey Recovery College
I first met with Beth Moore of the Jersey Recovery College over a year ago. Her passion for mental health and recovery was infectious. I have been looking for different ways to support the college since we first met, so for World Mental Health Day we asked her to come into our stores to let colleagues experience her passion first hand.
Jersey Recovery College has been set up to inspire people to manage their wellbeing and learn about mental health. It is founded on the principles of hope, opportunity and empowerment. The college provides education and training opportunities for people experiencing mental health difficulties and the families, friends and professionals who support them.
For me, one of the most important aspects of the college is that it's free and on a self-referral basis – meaning it is available to anyone, regardless of their symptoms.
We offered five sessions to colleagues across the business, and these are a few of the comments from people that attended:
"...The fact the college is run by people who suffer from the same issues is reassuring as they know where I am coming from and what I am going through, and more importantly they won’t judge me or belittle me."
"The presentation was informal, informative, without pressure to verbally participate out of one’s personal comfort zone. It brought to light a wealth of information, guidance and assistance that I didn’t know was readily available to all."
"We all have a responsibility to look out for the people around us and their wellbeing. These presentations educate us so that we can see the signs and offer support. Mental health has never been widely talked about and the work Jersey Recovery are doing helps those affected to talk openly about their troubles and ultimately find a way through with support and guidance."
In Guernsey, we worked with Guernsey Mind. They offered colleagues the opportunity to hear how Guernsey Mind are offering support within our community.
Jo Cottell spoke about why positive mental wellbeing is good for us, and gave a general introduction to mental health, including how to recognise symptoms in ourselves and others. She provided us with some practical tools and guidance for looking after our wellbeing at work, and where to get help in Guernsey.
As a result of these informal sessions, great opportunities have arisen for ways we can all help each other to look after our mental health.
Two of the most simple and easy to achieve are: Honesty and Openness. Don’t be afraid to ask that question ‘How are you?’. We don't have to be experts to talk and listen. I am proud to say that these are both part of our Co-operative values, and they are ingrained in our business model.
We hope these sessions have enabled colleagues to start having these sometimes difficult conversations.