meet our mental health first aiders: charlotte, claire and ross

posted on March 2021 by gap personnel group

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We joined in with Time to Talk Day by sharing advice and insights from our 11 Mental Health First Aiders, about how they tackled the mental challenges of lockdown.

 

Charlotte Owens - Payroll Manager

Who are you, what do you do within gap?

I’m Charlotte, the Payroll Manager for the group and I’ve been with gap for 16 years. I am a massive foodie (not a good thing when working from home with the fridge so near!) so outside of work I can usually be found in the kitchen experimenting with different ingredients.

Why did you want to become a Mental Health First Aider?

I believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, perhaps more so in situations like we are currently facing – problems can quickly spiral so it’s good to be aware of what warning signs to look out for and what help we can offer.  

What has your experience of lockdown been like, how have you found it?

It’s been okay although Lockdown 3 is definitely the toughest! It’s difficult to leave the house when it’s so dark and miserable outside.  

When you haven't struggled during lockdown, what do you think the reason has been for that?

Not much has really changed within my household, we’ve been working throughout which gives a sense of normality. I’ve also been trying to focus on things that will improve my overall health such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, specifically yoga in the morning which helps me start the day on a positive note.

Do you have any tips you have implemented either personally or within the team to support wellbeing? 

As a team we’ve kept it simple and set up a WhatsApp group so we can keep in touch about anything and everything. I would also recommend yoga to anyone.

 

Claire Roberts - Head of HR 

Who are you outside of work?

I am mum to my two boys (Jack 10 and Harry 8) and a fur mummy to our dog, Mabel, officially the love of my life!

Why did you want to become a Mental Health First Aider?

I suffered with postnatal depression after the birth of my first son, at the time I didn’t understand what was happening to me and neither did my family. It was a supply midwife that noticed the signs and opened up a conversation with me about what they had observed, and I think this was the main driver for wanting to become a MHFA. The experience opened up my mind to mental health and the reality that it can affect anyone. I wanted to be not only support to those who have the courage to reach out, but also to be aware of the signs in those who don’t.

What has your experience of lockdown been like, how have you found it?

There have been up’s and down’s and that’s just the scales! I can be a creature of habit and so for me it has taken some getting used to. Getting to grips with working from home whilst juggling home schooling has been a nightmare and as I am sure lots of other families have experienced, there have been tears and tantrums… most of them while I am in the middle of a Zoom call! I have missed my friends, the ability to go anywhere and everywhere you like and watched way too much TV but all in all, I can’t complain.

What have you done to support your wellbeing?

I have had to have a word with myself on a few occasions, to be a little kinder to myself. I think at times the pressure and guilt of not ‘doing it all’ can consume you but taking five to reset yourself and tell yourself – “It isn’t forever, you’re doing your best and everyone is in the same boat” can help, as simple as it sounds this has been very effective for me. Cleaning is another god send, whatever the emotion, having a little clean around distracts me and brings me back to the present.  

Do you have any tips you have implemented either personally or within the team to support wellbeing? 

As a team, we speak regularly, set catch ups throughout the week and open Microsoft Teams chat for in between. We also have a WhatsApp group and time at the end of the week we have 1-2-1’s to reflect on the week and plan in the next. As a very social bunch this has been really important.  

 

Ross Sullivan - Operations Director

Who are you outside of work?

I am married with three children. My wife and I thought it would be a cool idea to raise fierce and independent daughters. Which has been to our detriment during lockdown times. I used to run with the local club three times a week. They’ve had to suspend all group running since last March, can’t wait to get back to it, it’s been a big miss. In May we acquired an allotment patch, it’s been a great distraction for all of us, it’s so nice having a space away from the house.

Why did you want to become a Mental Health First Aider?

I have a number of people in my circle that periodically suffer with their mental health. I want to remove the stigma around people’s suffering. Having the opportunity to do this for a broader base of people across gap is something I’m very keen to help with.

What has your experience of lockdown been like, how have you found it?

I have not been a fan of lockdown at all. I miss the daily routine of travelling to different branches and engaging with different people. I also miss driving, it’s a good time and space for thinking. 

What have you done to support your wellbeing?

I found in lockdown one I’d blurred the lines between work and home life. So, I’ve made a conscious effort to separate the two out much better this time. Leaving the house to go for a walk every lunchtime has been a game changer. 

Do you have any tips you have implemented either personally or within the team to support wellbeing? 

When we are in the office I usually pace up, down and all around when I am on the phone. WFH has had a dramatic effect on my step count. For this Lockdown I am doing 10,000 steps a day as a minimum. The main contributor to this is my lunchtime Walk ‘n’ Talk. I’ll get my steps in whilst doing my catch up calls #burnandearn. I love being out in the fresh air, I really struggle to be chained to a desk for a considerable amount of time. Getting up and moving is so refreshing and stops me stagnating.