Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 - Practicing Kindness

Submitted by Salix on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 17:01

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from the 18th – 24th May.  

The theme this year is kindness, with its ability to strengthen relationships, develop communities and deepen solidarity.  

This year, Salix is encouraging employees to digitally share green ribbons during Mental Health Awareness Week to show support for ending the stigma around mental health in the workplace, a fantastic campaign led by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal.  

Research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation1 has shown that protecting our mental health could be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, with the psychological and social impacts likely to stretch beyond the physical symptoms caused by the virus.  

Taking care of your mental health is important to build resilience and overcome personal challenges. We have more time now than ever before to build our personal resilience and discover individual ways to stay motivated.  

We spoke to Seema Chandel, one of the PR and Marketing Officers at Salix, to talk about how she looks after her own mental wellbeing and practices kindness whilst working from home.  

How do you stay connected at work? 

Moving from working in an office space to working from home was a big learning curve in changing the way I communicate with my colleagues. At Salix, we normally work in an open plan office where it's easy to get up and speak to someone.  

Salix introduced Microsoft Teams which has been invaluable and has transformed the way I work and communicate with my colleagues. As a company, we have been sending each other updates and sharing activities which are getting us through the lockdown. It’s wonderful to see and a great way of staying connected.  

Transforming your workspace 

Part of my self-care routine is to make sure my bedroom is a space where I feel I can switch off. When we started working from home, I created a workspace in my bedroom that allowed me to strike the balance between a focused workspace in the day, and calming space for me to relax in the evening.  

To help with this, I rearranged a few items and I cover my bed with a colourful throw during the workday to create an office environment. At the end of the day, I place the items back to their original place and cover my workspace. This change makes a big difference to me.  

Spending time in nature is very important to me so I made sure my desk space was in front of the window to get some sunlight whilst working. I also positioned a few plants there as I love being green-fingered and watching them grow! Some of the plants include rosemary I'm growing from the seed.  

Practising kindness 

Kindness to me means practising self-care, ensuring I am mentally and physically fit and able to support my colleagues and others around me. 

It’s been helpful for me to maintain my usual routine as best as possible, including working my regular hours. During the day, I make sure I stay connected with colleagues as much as possible and reach out to them if they need support.  

I prioritise spending time outside whenever I can - I'm fortunate to have a balcony (where I have grown a strong collection of herbs that I'm proud of) and to live nearby the river, parks and nature reserves. These areas bring a sense of calm and connection to my local environment.  

During the lockdown period, I have been spreading kindness in my local community by supporting local independent businesses and I'm also looking to support my local food bank.  

Mental health awareness at work  

Salix has hosted several mental workshops for staff to learn more about the difference between mental illness and mental health whilst sharing the signs and symptoms of those who may be struggling around us. 

I myself am a big advocate of mental health and have helped to organise events for staff, such as a virtual talk for staff led by Dr Parashar Ramanuj, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. This workshop will focus on building resilience during COVID-19 and discuss difficult topics such as coping with physical isolation and work in a post-COVID world.  

Working for an organisation with such advocacy for mental health has been invaluable during this period.