Why I'm A Wellbeing Champion - World Mental Health Day
By Network Administrator Helen Walcott
I was asked to write a blog about being a Wellbeing Champion in the CRN WM as 2020 has been a terrifying rollercoaster ride for everyone and suffering with a mental health issue can make it even harder to cope or know how to reach out for support.
Why are you a Wellbeing Champion?
For me it was an easy decision to be a Wellbeing Champion. I am passionate about promoting mental health and fascinated by the massive impact even small gestures can have. Since 2012, and probably a bit before, I have struggled with my mental health; body image, self confidence, anxiety, stress...I could go on. It is the support I have received that has got me through some really dark times when I struggled to see the point of getting out of bed and carrying on, or was being physically sick at the thought of facing the day.
This support often came from unexpected sources. Just the right (or wrong) word can change the impact and focus of your whole day...or even longer. This is why it is important to be aware of Mental Health at all times, it is not always obvious or visible that someone is struggling so taking the time to listen / read between the lines, or being careful with how you respond when someone is sharing with you can make a massive difference.
I actually had one colleague who should have known better say to me (and mean it) “why don't you just snap out of it” when I was opening up about my anxiety. I doubt they will ever know how much that impacted me but they may as well have slapped me in the face. In fact, the bruise from a slap would have faded quicker - that quip still stings.
I am delighted to work for an organisation enlightened enough not to tolerate that sort of behaviour and not only recognises that mental illness is an illness but that we also need a toolkit to empower ourselves and look after each other as well as having access to health care professionals.
I am very open about my health issues (#sorrynotsorry), and the fact that I feel comfortable being so open is testament to the work that has gone on to end the stigma around Mental Health. If sharing my issues can help one person then it is worth boring you all.
What is your role as a Wellbeing Champion?
I see my role as a Wellbeing Champion as ‘awareness’; not only signposting and raising awareness of the great resources we have on offer, but to look and listen in meetings / conversations and if I spot someone being quiet / withdrawn / overly negative / out of character etc. then reaching out to see if there is something I can do to support them. The role is to be an advocate and a friend; to promote wellbeing as loudly as possible but also sit and listen when that is required. The old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved has a lot of merit.
What it means to you to be a Wellbeing Champion
To me it means giving back and paying forward. I have been helped massively and will never be able adequately thank those who have helped me (some probably don’t even realise what they have done). If I can be a friendly ear, or a reminder to someone who is struggling that this too will pass, then they get to help someone else and the support and kindness and positivity spreads rather than negativity. I am proud to be a Wellbeing Champion.