At Wates Group, the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees is central to our business ethos and success. This includes mental health as much as physical safety.
Rowenna Valentine, Community Investment Manager and Mental Health First Aider, gives her take.
‘Time to change’ is a major campaign that aims to raise awareness of mental health. A big part of this is focused on removing the associated discrimination that surrounds it and one of the more effective ways to tackle this, I believe, is to quite simply talk about it – and that’s where ‘Time to Talk’ comes in.
Thursday 7 Feb is ‘Time to Talk Day’ – it’s a day led by ‘Time to change’ that puts the value of talking to promote positive mental health, high on the wellbeing agenda. The aim is to start a conversation over a cup of tea, widen your networks and build relationships – all key ingredients to creating an environment where people feel comfortable talking about how they feel.
Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. Through my own experience I completely understand this fear. But I also know how powerful it is to take the first step and talk to someone when you are struggling. When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’ in 2008, it was the most difficult time of my life. He declined quickly and I never felt so alone. My commitment to mental health stems from my own experience and I don’t believe anyone should suffer in silence. This is why I am so passionate about mental health and why I signed up to become a Mental Health First Aider at Wates Living Space.
For me it’s about making sure people understand that anything can affect their mental health, and that’s okay. Life throws all sorts of things our way but we don’t have to deal with them on our own.
I’d encourage everyone to talk to someone they don’t know today (and every day). Go on, just say hello. It could be the first step to someone getting the support they need.
On one of our sites we have ‘rock out Friday’ where we play music for 15 minutes. We take turns to pick the music and everyone takes part, and most importantly everyone laughs. It’s a great way to get people talking and to open up because we all feel more relaxed.
As one of 183 Mental Health First Aider’s across Wates, I’ve been trained to spot the signs of someone who may be struggling. I am here to help colleagues get the support they need from a range of resources available to everyone at Wates.