Mental Health Awareness Week: sharing kindness and stories from lockdown
By Phoebe LebrechtMay 20202 min read
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week; a week in the national calendar dedicated to spotlighting mental health and spreading positivity.
At GoCardless we’re entering our third month of quarantine and so, showing kindness and support for the people around us is more important than ever. Some of our team members have families, some live alone and others are not only separated from their loved ones by the lockdown but also by time zones.
Ahead of this week, we spoke to some of the team at GoCardless about their experience with mental health.
Focusing on kindness
Since the beginning of this period, our People team has been committed to supporting each and every one of us globally and have done so whilst recognising the different struggles and challenges we’re each facing.
We’ve had virtual Town Halls to keep us informed, quizzes to keep us entertained and Zoom events for kids to give the parents among us some headspace. All of this has been incredibly helpful to maintain motivation and productivity but despite this, we are conscious that people will continue to struggle in these unprecedented times.
“Like a lot of people I’ve talked to, some days are absolutely fine and others feel really tough. The lack of control over the situation is particularly difficult to deal with - not knowing what our future looks like can be overwhelming”, says Creative Designer Zoe.
With the current situation, we’ve learnt from internal surveys that people are feeling isolated. To help combat that, we are running some sessions this week in theme with the Mental Health Foundation. This year's theme is kindness.
Everyone’s mental health is individual but hearing stories from other people can help us feel less alone. That’s why we’re sharing the brave stories of a number of our team internally via email and slack throughout the week.
We are also hosting a panel discussion with these voices, to air some of their experiences, normalise the conversation and signpost resources.
We’ve opened a #kindness channel on our internal Slack workspace. This is a forum for affirmations and tokens of appreciations that might usually come up in stand ups, business updates or meetings.
Lending an ear
Working from home shouldn’t mean that we miss out on impromptu coffee breaks. This week, we’re encouraging people to book a virtual coffee in with someone without an agenda.
Learning from each other
When discussed internally, one thing that was overwhelming was the powerful and positive advice people were willing to give, based on their experiences.
Exercise, meditation, sleep and routine were among the top priorities for looking after mental health. Creating safe environments for people to feel empowered to speak up and share their feelings is paramount.
We never know what each of us is going through, and for those who might be experiencing mental health problems. Customer Support Manager Dimple says, “Don’t wait to seek help. Some people may lack the courage, and some people may just not realise that they need help. If you lack courage, then find your inspiration and your motivation in life; that will give you the courage.”
Looking after yourself includes your mental health. Zoe sees her ”mental and physical health as two of the same. State of mind is a muscle that needs training, sometimes it feels weaker, so it takes strength and determination to push through to a more positive place.”
This week has been really helpful to spotlight the importance of talking about mental health, but the conversation and acts of kindness shouldn’t end here.
I have no doubt the #kindness channel at GoCardless will live on beyond MHW and I hope we can all continue to be kind to ourselves, as well as others.
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