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 Shaw, 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.”
Anne Shiels, Area Operations Manager, East Surrey
I wanted to become a Mental Health First Aider because it is important to me to learn different ways to support staff who approach us in difficult times. Being able to give them advice and the tools to support them in their roles is key to decreasing current staff absences, which can be linked to work related stress. When I feel stressed, I enjoy going running where I have time to myself to reflect and analyse on what I can change and what I can not change, reminding myself to not take on so much. Also, taking through work related issues with close work colleagues really helps me. I want to make colleagues feel comfortable at work; that I am here to support them and that talking is good as sharing negative thoughts or issues will help someone see things more clear… “A problem shared is a problem solved”.
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.
Daromi Carter, Communications Officer, Lockwood Activity Centre
Mental Health is just as important as physical health. I wanted to learn how best I can support colleagues, as well as friends and family who are struggling with their mental health. Completing the Mental Health First Aider training course gave us really valuable knowledge and insight into how to support people at work, as well as spotting early signs and symptoms. Exercise has always played a key role in improving my mental health. I go to the gym, practice yoga and also meditate as much as I can to clear my mind and stay level headed. Talking about your feelings has the power to take weight off your shoulders. I know opening up about personal matters is not easy for everyone and I will be around to listen and support anyone, no matter what situation they are in.
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 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.
Karen Fallon, Service Coordinator, The Knowle Activity Centre
Mental health is a subject I have been passionate about for a while as it affects so many people. I believe mental health is not a taboo subject and should be spoken about to create a wider understanding and positive culture. For me, it is important that I take a break, make a list, mind map, know that it is ok to say no… and sing at the top of my lungs! I enjoy walking the journey of life with others and together we can face all that it throws at us. I often find when I share my concerns or worries with others it makes me feel less alone and hope that this helps others.
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.
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.
Michelle Duncan, Employment Support Specialist, Noke Drive
I wanted to understand more about mental health and what people’s struggles are surrounding mental health and work. Also to be able to recognise when someone at work might be facing something. I like to get outside and go for walks, play hockey and taking time off something also helps. I am good at listening and always willing to do so in a situation. I think it makes people feel valued more when they share about their thoughts and feelings.
Nicola Casbierd, Deputy Manager 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.
Rebecca Grammel, West Service Coordinator, Lockwood Activity Centre
I wanted to be able to better support those around me personally and professionally with the mental health and wellbeing and to help others understand how people can be affected. Taking my dog for walks and snuggling up on the couch to watch a good film. I also like to book activities in the diary with friends and family to have things to look forward to. I am non judgemental and am happy to be there to talk or listen when needed. I believe having someone you feel is there or you can talk to is really important.
Richard Miles, Service Coordinator, Lockwood Activity Centre
Mental health is a stigma in society. I would like to address this stigma face on and let colleagues know that we are here to listen and will not judge. Keeping a routine really helps me when I am feeling overwhelmed as well as eating healthy, I make sure I have time for people as well as having time for myself. I may joke around a lot of the time, but I think positivity is key. I am a good listener and would give anyone my time with the respect they should deserve.
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.