Q&A for World Mental Health Day
Saturday 10th October is World Mental Health Day and here at Pall-Ex, we are passionate about supporting this important aspect of wellbeing.
Pall-Ex has worked with various mental health charities in the past and currently partners with Combat Stress, the charity for veterans’ mental health.
Our Human Resources (HR) team and our Health and Safety (H&S) team are key players in ensuring that all Pall-Ex staff are supported with their mental health all year round, at work and at home.
We spoke to Tabitha Connolly, Pall-Ex’s Group HR Manager and Abi Proctor, Health & Safety Advisor for Pall-Ex, about different areas of mental health and how you can promote good mental health in work and at home.
Why is Mental Health important?
Tabitha: “Mental health and wellbeing is so important, especially in the workplace. It can affect everything about you, from your mood and how you interact with others, your performance and even your sleeping patterns.
“Here at Pall-Ex, we ensure our employees have access to the tools and support they need for good mental health.
“The subject used to be very taboo, but thankfully we are talking much more about mental health, which is better for everyone, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“By ensuring we can support our employee’s mental health, we are making Pall-Ex a more positive and productive workplace.”
Abi: “Mental health plays a huge role in what we in the Health and Safety team are involved in at Pall-Ex.
“In recent years, there has been a real shift of focus onto mental health and wellbeing, and rightly so. Every year in the UK, there are 70 million working days lost due to mental health problems, so it is our job to prevent mental health problems where possible and support members of staff when necessary.
It is our responsibility to keep everyone safe both physically and mentally.”
Garry Burns, Corporate Fundraising Manager for Combat Stress also explains why mental health, and being aware of it, is so important, especially for former service personnel.
He comments; “If you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, behaviour, and relationships could be adversely affected.
The majority of former servicemen and women make a successful transition from the military to civilian life, but a small number do develop mental health problems. The legacy of war can tear apart the lives of the veterans we treat, as they relive the trauma they’ve experienced so often that they can find it hard to function in everyday civilian life.
Often finding themselves quick to anger, withdrawn, or unable to calm themselves in stressful or anxious situations, they are unable to participate in everyday activities such as work, relationships and leisure.
Some of these veterans may resort instead to harmful behaviours such as substance misuse, risk-taking and self-harm.
Thankfully, with the right treatment and support, they can return to leading fulfilling lives.”
Garry continues; “Former servicemen and women bring enormous value to the workplace, but some can require additional support due to their mental health.
“At Combat Stress, veterans tell us that with the support of their employer, they’re able to engage in mental health treatment alongside full-time work and have a rewarding career applying the skills and knowledge they developed in the military.”
What can people look out for to spot mental health problems developing?
Abi: “There are so many different dimensions to mental health, it means there can be any number of indications that something isn’t quite right.
These can range from feeling generally low, overwhelmed or worrying more, to being more aggressive, irritable or drinking more.”
A full list of potential warning signs can be found here – bupa.co.uk
Tabitha: “Further to what Abi has said, it is important to keep an eye out for changes in behaviour, attitude and approach towards everyday life.
“It might not be obvious to the individual who is suffering from mental health problems, but their friends, family and colleagues may be able to see a change. At that point, it is important for them to seek guidance and support, so the individual’s mental health can be cared for.
“In terms of here in the workplace, if we or a staff member’s manager notice a change, we will check in with that person and start a conversation with them about how they are feeling at the moment. This way, we can hopefully help early enough to prevent the problem from getting any worse.”
What are some of the areas of mental health that can affect people at work?
Abi: “There are a lot of different mental health problems that can affect people, all of which can vary in their severity.
As supporters of Combat Stress, we are also very aware of the challenges that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can pose, especially to those from an armed forces background.
Conditions like stress and depression are more commonly spoken about, but eating disorders and psychosis can be just as common, so it is important to understand the effects they can have too.”
Tabitha: “Our staff are the heart and soul of our business, so making sure they are healthy both physically and mentally is key to keeping our business running successfully.
Anyone who is dealing with mental health problems, whether they are those listed by Abi or any others, they should know that we are here to support them and help them find a way of coping.”
What techniques can you recommend to promote good mental health and wellbeing?
Tabitha: “Maintaining good mental health should be as important as maintaining physical health. Lots of people will go to the gym three times a week, but will take no time at all to work on their mental wellbeing.
“To keep your mental health in check, it is important to stay connected with other people. This has been challenging recently, but make the most of technology to connect with people virtually when you can’t meet in person. This helps give a sense of belonging and self-worth!
“It is also vital to mental health that you stay active. Exercise creates chemical changes in your brain that can improve your mood, so it is always a great way to improve mental health.”
Abi: “I completely agree with what Tabitha has said. Socialising and being active are massively important to good mental health.
“In addition to this, it is also great to always try to learn new skills and develop old ones. This can be trying new recipes in the kitchen or even working on a DIY project, as it can help build a sense of purpose and boost self-confidence.
“There is a lot of information out there that is targeted at maintaining and improving mental health, and we are always happy to help if anyone has any questions.”
For more ways to maintain mental wellbeing, visit: www.nhs.uk
What advice can you give for coping with Mental Health Problems?
Abi: “If you feel as though you are struggling to cope, or you need help understanding what you can do to improve your mental health, speak to friends, family or a professional.
“Here at Pall-Ex, we currently have some members of staff who are qualified or training as mental health first aiders, meaning we are able to support and advise about a wide range of problems. If we don’t have the tools available, we will be able to provide the details of the people who can help.
“Even if you are unsure whether you need help, it is always ok to ask for help, so don’t face whatever you are struggling with alone.”
Any Pall-Ex staff wishing to speak to a Mental Health first aider can contact;
- Michelle Naylor – UK Commercial Director
- Nick Antill-Holmes - Network Compliance Executive (currently training)
Tabitha: “We have a number of services available to the staff here at Pall-Ex.
“We have a 24/7 confidential support and advise line that staff can access to speak to someone and ask questions if they don’t want to speak directly to us, as well as online resources.
“It’s also important that people know they can speak to their GP about mental health too. As we have said before, mental health is just as important as physical health, so please don’t neglect it and take action if you are worried about anything at all.”
Managing Director of Pall-Ex (UK) Ltd, Barry Byers, also understands the importance of good mental health and wellbeing and is keen to continue Pall-Ex’s commitment to helping employees deal with any mental health issues they may face.
He comments; “We are under no illusion as to how vital mental health is for our team and in the wider community.
“Mental health can affect anyone at any time, so we are dedicated to ensuring we can provide the support network to help our staff when mental health issues arise.
Our people are our greatest asset at Pall-Ex, so it is our duty to look after each and every one of them to the best of our ability, and I am proud that we continue to find ways to do this.”
For more information about mental health and the tools available to help you cope if you are struggling, please visit the below organisations;
https://pandasfoundation.org.uk/ (postnatal/perinatal mental illness)
General Mental Health resources that cover a wide range of illnesses: