We’re at the end of another month of May – where did that go?!  To review the month of mental health awareness, Director Ciara Wright chats with Crew Captain Aine Ryan here!

Ciara:  Aine, we’re at the end of another month of May – the month of mental health awareness.  Do you think mental health awareness is improving in the workplace?

Aine: Definitely Ciara, I think we are really forward thinking here in Ireland and am delighted to say that our Mind Crew offerings are always front and centre when we meet with companies to design their wellness programmes. In fairness, I think a lot of people know it needs to be addressed, they are just looking for the advice on how best to do it.

Ciara: That sounds very encouraging.  However, we know there is no one simple solution?

Aine: There is no one-size-fits-all solution that a company can simply pick off the shelf and that’s it, mental health taken care of! There are lots of options and a good place to start is by asking your employees what they are interested in.  There is no point in putting on a mindfulness class if no one turns up.

 Ciara: It is their wellness after all! The participants should have a say in what is delivered to them.  I have to say though mindfulness is very popular at the moment though!

 Aine: Indeed, last year I think we had a lot more yoga going on, this year it’s all about mindfulness! But of course, that is not all there is to it.  It’s really about opening the conversation around mental health and breaking the taboo.  It shouldn’t be a case of, ‘please leave your mental health at the door on entering’.  We all bring our health and wellbeing to the workplace, it’s no different with mental health.  If you put on some events around mental wellbeing, it is a way to open the conversation in the workplace and show that it is something that affects us all.  

Ciara: Interesting statistics from Forsa this month also where 26% of workers are currently experiencing mental health issues, with 49% experiencing them in the past.  Sadly, only 7% said they felt well supported at work. So half of us have these issues at some point.

 Aine:  The numbers are staggering, but in a way I’m hopeful that is because reporting of mental health issues has also improved.  Stress is such a huge factor in our lives though and more and more people are requiring leave to deal with stress and mental health issues.

 Ciara: Our great Crew partners Mary Finn, Aoife Lee and Tracy Gunn have had some nice media this week about returning to the workplace.  This is something I gave a presentation on with Forsa last month at their forum.  If you take leave for a mental health issue, how do you integrate back in to the workplace? Do you get support or does nobody bat an eyelid and just pretend they never knew you were gone?

 Aine: This is a really interesting topic.  The re-integration period is really critical.  If you support a person in their return to work, they are much less likely to require leave again. It can be tricky though, how do you know how much someone wants to talk about their private lives – do you ask them, what do you say? These are issues that should be covered before the day they arrive on the shop floor. 

 Ciara: I’ll post the links to both the recent article and radio interview here below if people are interested in catching those.   Finally Aine, to finish on a light note, what’s your favourite way to mind your own mental health? Mine is forest bathing! Aka mountain running with my two dogs 😊 

Aine: My number one has to be just walking – I love to walk, any chance I get, a great way to clear my head.   I also love to catch up with the girls for dinner, coffee, they help me to switch off and laugh a lot.  And finally, hanging out with my family – it sounds cliché but  it’s true and works for me.  

Ciara: Thanks Aine, here’s to a great month of mental health awareness.  Check out those links I promised here:

Links:  Read from Aoife Lee, featuring Tracy Gunn, about returning to work after maternity leave on rte.ie *here* and catch Mary Finn talking about returning to work after sick leave on Galway Bay FM *here*


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