horwich farrelly

Mental Health Week 2017: It’s time to talk

October, 13, 2017

On the final day of our Mental Health Week we’re asking all our people to be more open about their mental health with a coffee morning in aid of Rethink Mental Illness.

Everyone from Partner to Legal Apprentice is being encouraged to get together over a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake, and to chat about how we can be more open about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Cardiff office bake sale in aid of Rethink Mental Illness

Colleagues in our Cardiff office have already raised £163 for Rethink Mental Illness

One person who has already shared their story with us Bronwyn*, who joined our Manchester office last year. Earlier this week we caught up with her to listen to her experience of living with anxiety and depression, the support she has received at work and her tip for wellbeing.

Here’s what she had to say:

Bronwyn’s story

“I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since I was about 17. Just being in a room with a large of number of people, like when I’ve had to take an exam, can really put me on edge. So when I started working at Horwich Farrelly – my first job since leaving uni – I was anxious about being part of a big team, and coming into contact with so many people I didn’t know.

Student taking an exam

Bronwyn* found that just being in a room of people, such as in an exam, was enough to bring on anxiety.

“However, the level of support I’ve had from my manager, my colleagues and our HR team has been really good. I’ve been encouraged to be open about my mental health issues from day one so that they can make reasonable adjustments, just as they would if say I had a mobility issue, was visually impaired or was diabetic.

“Also, it might sound trivial but company policies like the relaxed dress code and flexible start times have really help. There have been days where I’ve just wanted to come to work in a warm, woolly jumper and jeans so being able to do just that can make a big difference to how you feel at work.

“In my case my doctors have told me I have a chemical imbalance which, at times, can affect my mood and feelings, and cause panic attacks. It’s just the way I’m made. There’s no stigma around talking about what might be more apparent physical conditions so there shouldn’t be any embarrassment about talking about mental health problems you might have.

Candle and bath bomb

Having a ‘self care’ box to hand containing comforting items has proven effective to Bronwyn.

“We all lead pretty busy lives but I think it’s really important to take time out for yourself, and to take away the stress of dealing with the usual obligations. Whether you’re experiencing a mental health issue or not I recommend everyone creates their own ‘self care’ box at home. Think of it like a regular first aid kit but instead of plasters, bandages and safety pins you might have a bath bomb, favourite rom com and a pair of slippers. It’s so simple yet it’s really helped me out.

“Although not all mental health issues have obvious symptoms, I do sometimes experience nausea, headaches, and dizziness from my prescription medication so there have been times where I’ve not been able to come into work. The HR department understand why and will treat you like an adult but, at the same time, will consider it like any other period of sickness so you’re still required to phone in each morning you’re going to be off work, complete a return to work interview and, depending on the length of absence, provide a doctor’s note.

Man alone in tunnel

“There seems to be a lot more pressure for men to just ‘get on with it’ and conceal their emotions.”

“I’ve always tried to be fairly open but I do think men have it a lot harder. There seems to be a lot more pressure to just ‘get on with it’ and conceal emotions. It shouldn’t be that way. I would say if you’re experiencing an issue with your mental health that there is absolutely no shame in going to see your GP. They are there to help you; not to judge you.

“I think the new mental health first aider initiative is a brilliant idea and training people at different levels, and in different offices is smart. Some people might feel they can only open up to colleagues they already know quite well; others might prefer approaching someone in the business they’ve never actually met. Different things work for different people.”

*To preserve confidentiality we’ve used a pseudonym.

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