As part of the commitment Surrey Choices have made to be a Mindful Employer, Surrey Choices colleagues undertook a Mental Health First Aiders Course held by Melanie Newnam from Mental Health First Aid England. As a result of completing the course, colleagues from Surrey Choices became Mental Health First Aiders, where they help colleagues and the disabled people they support struggling with Mental Health. See their profiles below.
Alana Fulbrook, HR Advisor, Fernleigh Activity Centre
Professionally and personally, I encounter people who need support with their mental health and wellbeing. I want to be able to fully support my colleagues, friends and family who are suffering with their mental health and wellbeing. I also want to remove the stigma around mental health and want people to feel comfortable to talk things through with me. Going to the gym really helps me to clear my mind, it is my go to coping strategy. I also like spending time with family and friends and enjoying a holiday in the sun. I am a good listener; I do not allow other tasks distract me whilst someone is opening up and for them to know I am there for support the best way I can. I saw a quote the other day which is 100% accurate “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”
Charlotte Cowey, Senior Activity Facilitator, East
Mental health can affect a person both professionally and personally, I wanted to widen my knowledge around this subject to be able to offer a more understanding approach. I want to be able to help fight against the stigma that comes with mental health, for people to feel comfortable to speak to me regarding their mental health and for them to know that I will always be available to support them without judgment.
Emma Dadzie, Acting Deputy Manager, Banstead Activity Centre
Mental health is a topic which affects many people and those who are not affected find it very difficult to talk about. The Mental Health First Aid training has provided me with the knowledge and skills to support colleagues, as well as other affected people including their families. Some of the things that help me when I’m not feeling myself is to listen to music, get organised by planning my tasks, accepting what will go wrong will go wrong, dancing and praying. I am here to support colleagues as I am a very approachable individual and easy to talk to. I am always calm and will be around to listen and support anyone.
Emma Redfern, HR Advisor, Fernleigh Activity Centre
As large part of my role is spent talking and listening to colleagues. Undertaking this course has enabled me to support those who may need help but who are unable to make that first step. Sometimes I just need some time to myself, I have recently re-discovered my love of swimming and I am taking the time each week to de-stress in the pool. I am a good listener and always take the time for people who need me. I think it is really important to look after ourselves as we can only support our customers if we are supporting ourselves and each other.
Diego Acosta, Service Coordinator, Redhill
I am very interested on the holistic approach to create and maintain a level of well being amongst colleagues at Surrey Choices. Mental health is a fundamental aspect which is often ignored and I hope we can create an open culture whereby this is not the case. I practice a meditation technique called Vipassana, which means “to see things as they really are”. This really helps me to relax and prioritise what is important in my current situation. I believe I am an empathetic person and I hope colleagues will feel able to talk to me as I will always listen.
Jessica Williams, Marketing and Communications Manager, Lockwood Activity Centre
I have a keen interest in how we can improve our work/ life balance and to improve what we do at Surrey Choices to support our colleagues. I also wanted to learn about how I can manage my own stress! Cleaning is my go-to for de-stressing! I am a Mrs Hinch fanatic, her activity journal is my bible! I strongly believe that “A problem shared is a problem halved”. Sharing how we are feeling with someone and opening up about difficult times in our lives can make a huge difference.
Jo Redfern, Senior Activity Facilitator, FlexiChoices
I find that mental health is still a massive taboo subject. I have seen how hard it can be on a person to suffer in silence and would like to be able to support people to stop them from feeling alone during a hard time. I also want to be able to draw on the knowledge I have gained in my own life and to be able to support those around me.
Jo Smith, Learning and Development Partner, Noke Drive
I really wanted to undertake Mental Health First Aider training to help promote good emotional and physical wellbeing. When I’m feeling out of sorts, I like to take the dogs of a walk, bake and ensure I have time for myself which usually means getting up at 5am before anyone else in my house awakens! I will try to help as many people as I can now I am a Mental Health First Aider as I am a good active listener, I respect confidentiality, I would be able to sign post if necessary and I am non judgemental.
Karen Breakspear, Employment Support Specialist, Noke Drive
I wanted to learn more about Mental Health, and to be able to help the people I support, colleagues, friends and family. I love spending time with my family & friends, and I find flower arranging can redirect my mind. I am a good listener and I’ve been told very approachable and so I hope people feel like they can come and talk to me easily if they need to.
Kate Dawkins, Quality Assurance Coordinator, Lockwood Activity Centre
Mental health and wellbeing has always been a subject close to my heart for a number of reasons. Our colleagues are our most important asset, so it is vital that we do all we can to look after their wellbeing and support them in the workplace and I am looking forward to being a part of that process! Exercise is really important to me; I love getting out in the fresh air and walking my dog. I also like running and going to the gym and when I have time I turn wood! “The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about”, is a quote that has always resonated with me. I will be here to listen and support our colleagues whatever your circumstances. Having the courage to talk about how you are feeling and to know that it is ok to feel like this, is the first step in the road to recovery.
Kim Neville, Service Coordinator, Cranstock Activity Centre
I am the new Service Coordinator at Cranstock Activity Centre and I wanted the resources to help my staff in the best way possible. I cope by getting my head down and making myself busy at work, and in my personal life carrying on as normal. I feel I am an understanding, easy and calm to talk to and I will always go above and beyond to help someone else.
Marina Phillips, Activity Facilitator, Day Services
I became a Mental Health First Aider because I know how tricky it can be to look after your wellbeing, especially at work with all the pressures of new ways of working or working from home for the first time. I realised how much more understanding we would be as a society if we all had some mental health awareness!
Mette Le Jakobsen, Managing Director, Lockwood Activity Centre
Like regular First Aid, Mental Health First Aid is a lifeskill that I was keen to have, because mental health affects everyone, at work and at home, whether personally or at work. Singing and music is my main outlet, and of course exercise. Having safe spaces and people you know you can rely on really matters. But mostly it’s about finding a balance in all things and being kind to yourself. I have always had a strong interest in what makes people tick, and that makes me a good listener. I want anyone who comes to me to feel safe. Experience has given me the courage to ‘ask twice’ and to really care for the answer. I am also generally a positive and encouraging person.
Nicola Casbierd, Shared Lives, Lockwood Activity Centre
I wanted to become an Mental Health First Aider at Surrey Choices because I have a keen interest in mental health and work with many people with disabilities who have a diagnosis of Mental Health. I like to write lists when I feel stressed as it helps me to get organised. I also enjoy going out for a walk in the fresh air to relax. I am an easy person to talk to, I am always happy to listen to anyone non-judgementally and feel I can support someone in the right direction if they are in need of support.
Phil Mack, Learning Officer, Noke Drive
Staff and customers often chat to me about things they are finding hard emotionally. Having mental health issues myself means I can empathise with them, but doing the course has given me tools to support people to help themselves
Rachael Walker, Employment & Communities Manager, EmployAbility
I am passionate about Mental Health awareness and breaking down barriers and removing stigmas around this subject. Enhancing and widening my knowledge and understanding both in my work and personal life is very important to me, being able to reach out and support those around me, whilst also looking at my own wellbeing
Suzy Knox, Senior Activity Facilitator, Lockwood Activity Centre
The knowledge and skills I am learning will hopefully make a difference to both my personal and professional life, to staff I work with and Customers I support. I hope my training will help people to find the support they need.
Wendy Baldwin, Activity Facilitator, Fernleigh Activity Centre
I went on the Mental Health First Aider course as I have a keen interest in how we can improve our work/ life balance and to improve what we do at Surrey Choices to support our colleagues. I also wanted to learn about how I can manage my own stress! A nice walk and a talk with a friend in Kew Gardens is my favourite thing to do to make me feel good… time for myself is golden time and I enjoy having fun with my grandchildren and holidays with my husband. I am a calm person and a good listener, I am very approachable, resourceful and I will help anyone no matter what time of day.