We are embracing Mental Health Awareness month here at hedgehog lab. We don’t just pay lip service to topics; we actively engage because we value the understanding they bring.
We highly value our team at hedgehog lab‚ simply we couldn’t do what we do without them.
We have several activities (thanks to Gemma for organising)‚ all designed to create awareness and to create arenas for discussion.
Watch this space and follow us on social as we will be updating through the month.
Monday 9th May: Breakfast Talks
Today was the first in our programme of exploring #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth.
There is no way better to start than a good breakfast‚ we had a mouth-wateringly good selection of fruit‚ yoghurts‚ and some cheeky muffins.
Of course‚ this is more than just providing breakfast‚ by getting together and starting the day well with healthy food gives you the lift to have a great day – and of course having a chat helps with any pressure points that can build up.
As Gemma highlights‚ “this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness week is loneliness so what a great way to come together over breakfast and take some time out to connect with one another. The healthier options went down a treat and we didn’t forget about our virtual employees who all joined us with their own breakfasts too!”
A big thanks to Gemma who organised the mornings treats.
Tuesday 10th May: Sausage Dog Walks
As a surprise and a treat‚ we had this little fella join us in the office today. Dogs are amazing at helping improve MentalWellbeing‚ our SausageDog for the day is certainly no exception.
We just need to catch him now… Fitness is also brilliant for wellbeing‚ which is a good job!
We’re planning on a few more doggy visits this month‚ watch this space.
Wednesday 11th May – Team Walks
It is a well-known fact that exercise is one of the best ways to look after your #MentalHealth. Even a short burst of 10 minutes of brisk walking increases our mental alertness‚ energy‚ and positive mood.
Participation in regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can also reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
So today we took our lunch out into the City of York and walked along the River Ouse. Despite the rain‚ we powered on through (there is no such thing as bad weather‚ just the wrong type of clothing). We returned to the office fully refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon.
It’s all too easy in the tech world to be fully immersed in a digital environment. A little daily exercise is a great way to maintain some perspective and reset back to zero when you need to.
We have had a couple of dog related treats this week Firstly we had the absolute privilege of meeting Sotty and Piers‚ the former being a puppy guide dog in training and the latter a fully-fledged guide dog.
It was wonderful to meet and learn how incredibly valuable these dogs are in giving owners independence and confidence in daily life. Plus‚ they are adorable.
We finish the week with Forrest who we think makes a great mascot for hedgehog lab for his great posing abilities.
We have had a lot of fun with our furry friends in the office this month. They have really highlighted how having a different focus can really help with improving mental health.
Mental Health Awareness in Action
We wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month with an important way we support our team at hedgehog lab.
We established a support platform for anyone who needs help with their mental wellbeing whether at home or work. We recognise this isn’t always the easiest thing to cover but it has huge importance.
As such we have several Mental Health First Aiders in the business who have had the training required to be on hand should they be needed to support the team. To provide some insight we have asked Scott Broughton and Becca Anderton some questions around the vital role they cover.
Scott Broughton Becca Anderton
What first motivated you to become a mental health first aider?
SB: As the pandemic rapidly accelerated the move towards remote work‚ it left little time for people to adjust. People’s daily lives changed almost overnight‚ and as a company we saw how this was beginning to take its toll on the team. As well as partnering with local wellness organisations for support in this‚ hedgehog lab also invested in the team and asked for volunteers to undergo MHFA training.
I jumped at the chance to learn a new set of skills that would allow me to help my teammates (and myself) through such a difficult time.
BA: As a line manager it felt important to me to be equipped to help people in every way that I can. I wanted to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be able to support my colleague’s wellbeing as best as possible.
What does a Mental Health First Aider do?
At hedgehog lab‚ MHFA’s check in with their immediate team mates on a regular basis. These check-ins take the form of confidential‚ low-pressure‚ and informal chats both about work and life in general! Whilst the main use of the check-ups is just to give people someone to vent with or talk to‚ our MHFA training has given us the knowledge required to pick up on any signs early on that somebody might be beginning to struggle with their mental health. We can then either help them to work through it or refer them to one of our outside wellness partners if they feel that that is the right move.
What do you think is the most rewarding thing about being a mental health first aider?
SB: Being a part of the support network for such a great group of people! There are so many smart and interesting people at hedgehog lab‚ that it’s an honour to know that some of them feel comfortable confiding in me. Also‚ trying to help others where you can is good for the soul.
BA: I think just knowing that I’m able to help in these situations is rewarding. Not only that but I feel like having mental health first aiders at a company helps remove the stigma surrounding mental health‚ which unfortunately still exists in some places. Any work that I can do to help remove this stigma‚ and help people feel comfortable and supported feels incredibly worthwhile to me.
How important do you think it is for companies to acknowledge that people have these kinds of difficulties and to provide schemes like this‚ that give support in the workplace?
SB: Any great company is defined by the people within it. It’s super important for team members to look out for each other‚ and for employers to facilitate this. People do their best work when they feel engaged‚ confident‚ and empowered. Fostering a culture of support and giving people the belief that the company is there for them if they need us goes a long way towards this.
BA: I think it’s incredibly important for companies to acknowledge this area – especially after the COVID-19 pandemic which had a huge impact on many people’s mental health. People spend around 8 hours a day at work‚ and in my opinion‚ they need to know that they are supported in the workplace‚ and that if they do find themselves struggling‚ they have a support system in place‚ and are able to discuss it without feeling any stigma.
What would your parting advice be for companies or employees?
SB: Be proactive in encouraging openness and support around mental health within your team. Don’t wait for people to come forward to say that they might be struggling with their mental health – the very culture of the workplace should be built around support‚ balance‚ and trust.
BA: For companies – if you don’t already have mental health first aider’s then I would sincerely consider looking into it. Many companies have physical first aiders‚ and mental health is just as important‚ if not more so‚ than physical health in the workplace.
For employees – if supporting your colleagues in this way is something you are interested in‚ I would reach out to your manager and discuss undertaking the MHFA course‚ I think this is especially relevant if you are a line manager as it positions you in the best way to help.