It’s good to talk, great to listen…and grow through learning!

Back It’s good to talk, great to listen…and grow through learning!

I’m passionate about mental health and wellbeing. In 2019, the Digital leadership team at Nationwide Building Society gave me the autonomy to establish a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) network…of four colleagues! This was the first initiative of its kind at Nationwide; we now have 300+ volunteers across the society – MHFA and Healthy Mind Champions.

Throughout the pandemic requests for help soared. I’ve supported colleague concerns ranging from grief/bereavement, loneliness, menopause, stress, anxiety, depression, and complex conditions e.g., Panic Attack, PTSD, OCD and suicide. I’ve prevented colleague mental ill-health becoming more serious, promoted recovery of good mental health and provided comfort to colleagues who are not ok or distressed. Critically, I’ve helped colleagues at risk of harm to themselves and others. Most support has been virtual.

Mental health has affected me personally; following the tragic loss of my stepson’s girlfriend to suicide in 2020, I wanted to do more.

In addition to my then role in Nationwide Technology, I co-founded Minds Matter, an employee network dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. The network launched on World Mental Health Day 2021 with the following SPECIAL aims:

● Signposting: providing mental health and wellbeing hints and tips as well as carefully guiding colleagues to appropriate professional/specialist advice and help

● Peer Support: empowering colleagues to share expertise and knowledge, provide support, social interaction or practical help

● Education: running events to promote greater understanding of mental health and wellbeing concerns that affect colleagues, and supporting the ongoing development of our volunteers

● Collaboration: working closely with other networks, leaders, external providers, mental health organisations and charities

● Inclusion: creating a community of colleague support that includes all our awesome volunteers

● Awareness: helping reduce stigma and discrimination by highlighting awareness campaigns throughout the year

● Listening: providing supportive, non-judgemental, confidential conversations to those in need, listening to members’ feedback and championing the change needed to create a truly inclusive and supportive workplace where colleagues can thrive

I am proud to co-chair the network which is enabling 750+ colleagues to connect, share and champion workplace mental health and wellbeing.

To be a truly inclusive leader it’s important to demonstrate vulnerability; in the last year I’ve been open about my own mental ill-health, contributing to tackling the stigma and helping others speak up and seek help. I’ve also demonstrated my passion for EDI with a renewed love of learning. In the New Year I challenged myself to take a qualification every month – I have deepened my knowledge in Equality and Diversity, Mental Health Problems, Workplace Mental Health and Stress Awareness, Suicide First Aid, Disability, LGBTQ+ and Racism Awareness. As at the time of writing this blog I’m studying Autism and ADHD Awareness to better understand the challenges faced by my neurodiverse colleagues.

And where has this all got me? In September 2022 I secured my dream role, I’m a Senior Leader focused on EDI & Wellbeing in a community of 8000+ colleagues. Positive action to attract and retain women in technical and leadership roles is a key priority, along with stepping up wellbeing support to colleagues during this unprecedented time.