The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. To mark the occasion we meet up with three of our Work + Wellbeing Champions about how their roles as Mental Health First Aiders have evolved during the pandemic.  

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the other side of your roles today. Can you tell us about how the Work + Wellbeing initiative came to be? 

Work and Wellbeing

Chloe Craughan, Head of Marketing: “I signed up as a mental health first aider in 2019. For the first year, I don’t think anyone ever really spoke to me about their problems. Then Covid hit and things changed.”

Chloe adds, “The Work + Wellbeing sessions (our fortnightly social get-togethers) didn’t exist before lockdown – it’s something that came out of the pandemic because we felt we needed to provide an outlet for people to look after their wellbeing. People can come together and engage from across the business, and there’s an opportunity to switch off from the emails. 

Gemma Walsh, Lead Manager Operational Improvement: “It’s nice to know that you can make a difference to somebody’s life, and I think when we proactively decided to move from just being Mental Health First aiders into being the Wellbeing Champions it helped to widen the net of who we could reach, before they may have got to the point of needing mental health first aid.” 

James Tong, Healthcare Sales Manager: “The Work + Wellbeing sessions were hopefully just a bit of a distraction from the monotony of life in lockdown and a change to Groundhog Day, which is something we’ve been trying to do at home as family as well.” 

How do you use the skills from your Mental Health First Aider/Work + Wellbeing roles outside of your life at Trustmarque? 

Gemma: “I help lead my local running club and I help to promote the positive impact on mental health and wellbeing at the same time. Doing the mental health first aider training at Trustmarque made me more aware of how other people feel, and what could be going on for them behind the scenes and how to approach people in the right way if I was concerned. 

Gemma continues: “Some of the techniques that you learn on the course like the stress container piece where you can really help manage your own stress by realising what your triggers are and what you can or can’t control, have been really useful techniques to share and so easy to use yourself.” 

Chloe adds: “I check in with myself daily: am I feeling overly stressed? Am I not sleeping well? Has my appetite decreased, and then how do I deal with that? And during lockdown, I made a point of getting outside with my dog and used my decompression time to do ‘Couch to 5K’. I think it is really vital to understand what works for you and catching yourself before you get to breaking point.”  

How have you had to adapt to managing your own wellbeing during lockdown? 

Chloe: “There’s definitely this feeling that by working from home you have to always be available. Your response times have got to be quicker, better. I think that it just puts you under a whole lot more pressure.”

James: “There’s a feeling that if you’re working from home, you need to show you’re focused every minute of the day. To me at times it’s not been working from home – it’s been living at work. My wife and I have both working from home throughout lockdown, and with home-schooling added to the mix earlier in the year it was a very challenging time. So I understand how hard it can be. ”  

James adds that the welfare of his team has been paramount: “Especially encouraging people to take breaks, walk and talk if possible and take days off as well to get some headspace. Otherwise, we can fall into the trap of it just being meeting after meeting.”

Our Work + Wellbeing sessions

Bake Off Challenge
Mindfulness session
Yoga and Relaxation

And what would you say to encourage others with interest to become a Work + Wellbeing Champion?  

Chloe: “Do it! I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid. And then I realised I really don’t like blood. So maybe it’s like a halfway house kind of thing. I’m helping people and fostering a community.”   

Gemma: “You don’t need an official badge or label to be a Wellbeing Champion, it’s just about considering others and helping promote the importance of looking after yourself and those around you.  Hopefully this is something we can all be a bit more mindful about in our everyday lives.”

Your chance to shine

If you’d like to find out more about our Work +Wellbeing Champion initiative, then please email [email protected] If you like what you’re reading, then why not check out our careers page and come and work for us.