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Reflecting on mental health awareness

My Mental Health Wellbeing Week

Asif
Khan
Business Admin apprentice

Poor mental health can perhaps be one of the biggest problems we face in today’s society. It’s a sensitive subject that everyone is aware of, but not everyone knows how to manage effectively. Wellbeing doesn’t only affect personal life, it extends to the workplace and impacts overall productivity. From my own personal experience, a few years ago, I found there wasn’t much awareness for young people in the workplace. This is a huge issue, as young people can stress due to too much pressure on workload, any domestic issues, career issues and plans.

Personally, I was in a situation where I was stuck for three years with no career plans and ideas of what I wanted to pursue in life. I left college with a change of career and ended up with three different jobs which I had no passion for, doing 12-15 hour shifts. I went through severe depression due to lack of self-confidence and not really having that support to rely on. Fast forward to now, and I’m in a fantastic workplace with future career plans to look forward to and great people to network with on a daily basis.

Mental health awareness in the workplace, especially for young people, is really important. It should be a topic they should feel comfortable to speak about because this point in their lives is crucial for their personal wellbeing. So as I am aged 22, and it was mental health wellbeing month, I thought it would be good to take part in the activities my workplace set up for a week to give people their cooling off time and improve their mindfulness.

I work as a Business Associate apprentice at Newable and they specialise in business support services. The activities they put on included using a massage chair for as long as you liked, Virtual Reality headset, electronic head massager, yoga sessions, private back massage and a mental health wellbeing presentation involving breathing activities.

As it turned out, the weekend before, everyone received surprise boxes in the post. The care package had a few items to use for self-care which included: an eye mask to help sleep, a head massager, dark chocolate, headphones, colouring pencils and a colouring book to keep stress levels down. Not all companies do this so it’s a nice surprise to show how the company cares about boosting productivity. This could also be a great opportunity for someone else to tell their HR team to bring more options employees can take part in for Mental Health awareness in the workplace. I will admit, as I am a young person, I did feel a bit odd doing some of the activities especially in the workplace. It just didn't feel natural for me to do some things with peers, for example the yoga sessions especially, so not everything is for everyone. I didn’t let this stop me completely as I wanted to be productive and see if it really helps.

I started my weekend using the head massager, which actually helped. It made me feel relaxed along with the eye mask, and made me sleep quicker with fewer distractions. The first activity I did at work was the massage chair, which was nice to just relax in and take a break from the constant screens, emails and spreadsheets. The chair was really nice and chilled, but sometimes difficult to put it on the right setting, so it was a bit too uncomfortable which was a disappointment.

Next I used the VR headset which I found very useful when you simply get anxious or pressured due to the workload or any other issues.Virtual Reality is getting more and more advanced so it was really good to see the different scenarios you can be in and all other chatter around you being blocked out.

Something I had never tried before was meditation. The group session was presented by a mindfulness coach in the middle of our office along with my other colleagues. It was a really well laid out presentation on how to control thoughts and focus better in the workplace. The trick is to dedicate at least 10 minutes of your day to just stop, relax and be thankful for where you are now and what you have achieved so far in life. Something that makes you happy. This I found useful as it also helps with you mapping out your career goals one step at a time.

My last activity for the week was a 20 minute back massage appointment, which was optional to all employees. I booked. As well as the good week involving the other activities this was a nice relaxed ending as it was good to be away from the constant distractions we have at work.

That brings my mental health wellbeing week to an end. I thought it was an amazing experience to be a part of and also a good opportunity to give good feedback to HR and colleagues. In general I felt really relaxed from the techniques used and have a more clear mindset to focus. I would definitely recommend taking a tleast 10 minutes of your day to practise breathing, because I found this the most impactful activityin terms of reducing my stress.

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