The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness – something that has affected more and more of us over the past few years.
Extended periods of home working and social distancing during the pandemic have made many people feel more isolated and had a knock-on impact on the mental health of many of our colleagues.
We are committed to providing a comprehensive mental health support service to our people, and 19 colleagues at our Hellaby site are now formally trained as mental health first aiders and responders.
These colleagues, three quarters of whom have been trained in the last year, are equipped to recognise the signs and symptoms of common workplace mental health issues and support their colleagues through difficult periods.
We are building on this momentum with an ambition to provide 20% of our workforce with formal mental health training over the next few years.
Mental health awareness is now a formal part of the induction process, so new colleagues know there is support available right from the get-go.
Feeling a sense of community at work can also help tackle loneliness, which is part of the reason we run social events regularly. Our barbeque and ice cream truck visits last year, for example, brought the team together and let colleagues blow off some steam after a challenging few months.
The pandemic made clear that mental health support is critical all year-round – and not just during a crisis. We hope the steps we are taking will help staff suffering from mental health issues feel comfortable to seek out support and ensure no member of staff suffers in silence.
Below, our mental health first aiders and responders share their tips on how they manage loneliness and their tips for overcoming it.
Robert Vacarusi – Trainee Management Accountant
“I think it’s important to understand that anyone can experience loneliness from time to time and the reasons behind this varies; from moving to another place and break-ups to bereavement. The first-time loneliness had a big impact on me was when I moved to the UK on my own and I realised that all my friends were more than a thousand miles away.
A few coping mechanisms I found useful were painting, joining Facebook groups with people sharing same hobbies and passions, and last and the most important thing was realising that happiness is not always measured in the number of friends you’ve got but what objectives and goals you’ve put in mind and worked to achieve.”
Linda Trembath – Payroll and HR Administrator
“Think of something you enjoy; take up a new hobby, join a walking club – it’s a great way to meet people and get fit. Connect with an old friend, as they might be lonely too. Volunteer for a good cause. Hang out with some ‘non-humans’ – animals are great at making us feel connected and cared for.
It’s important to know you are not alone and it’s ok to ask for the support you need. Parseq Mental Health First Aiders are always available and we will all have felt lonely in some point of our lives too. We are at every site and in every department, here to listen. It’s good to talk.”
Joanne Brookes – Operations Manager
“It’s important that people know where to go to if they are struggling with loneliness or other mental health issues at work. But it is also important that we know where to go to outside of Parseq if we need someone to talk to.
Age UK, Childline, Family Action, Mind and Depression UK all provide great resources for people experiencing loneliness:”