This week 10th to -16th May 2021 is Mental Health Awareness Week. An annual event which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and supported BT and Royal Mail Trade Unions, mental health advocacy groups and some employers.
The CWU is one of the trade unions that has mental health at work as a high profile issue, and across branches in Royal Mail in particular, work is being done this week with the employer to promote good mental health and mental health problems awareness at work.
Taking the stigma out of mental health illnesses and promoting the idea that talking to friends, family, GPs and counseling services; is the best way to address of prevent serious mental health problems. Also, to identify and tackle those issues which can too often lead to suicidal thoughts by signposting people to support services and the Samaritans if needed too.
'Nature and the environment' is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021! The evidence is clear that access to nature is crucial for our mental health and millions of people re-discovered that during lock downs this year.
The CWU in the North West has produced a superb document which can be downloaded here which gives advice and support and is being supplemented by events taking place at work places throughout the North West, with the support of employers such as Royal Mail. The Unions network os Union Safety Reps and Area Safety Reps are very much involved along with Mental Health First Aid trainers from the CWU at branch level.
Two of the events held locally and taking place this week:
Warrington MPU (Mail Processing unit)
Alison Banks and John Richardson new CWU Trained MHFAs are helping to run their workplace event and can be seen in these photos. They told uinionsafety:
"This year the Mental Health Foundation has chosen the initiative: Thinking about connecting with nature and how nature can improve our mental health.
The theme was chosen because being in nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and of protecting our well-being. Taking up on this theme, we have adopted the Elephant to represent nature.
The day began with our Canteen poster being displayed today that hopefully people will participate in throughout the week.
There was a plethora of information available on notice boards and good role models for those who find it hard to talk about their feelings and well-being.
In particular, the story of Rio Ferdinand whose bravery in making a public statement and given his support to campaigns to help to encourage men in particular to seek advice and support; is inspiring.
One of the most informative bits of information on their notice boards, identifies just what causes mental health difficulties and that 'you are not alone' and that there is help available.
At the Royal Mail's Birkenhead Local Distribution Office, CWU's Mental Health First Aiders, Kelly Russel and James Morgan ran the opening of their mental health awareness week with a good spread of advice and reference material offering support and understanding of mental health issues their colleagues may experience.
There is a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding in society today, and it is often very difficult for people going through stress and anxiety caused by work or home environments to actually understand what is happening to their emotions; or indeed that they are going through forms of mental health distress.
Talking is the major issue and the main route out of the feelings of loneliness, even exile that having to battle alone with ones mental health problems can overwhelm us with.
CWU's Mental Health First Aiders are trained to talk with those who need a 'chat' or encouragement to know they are not the only ones, nor alone, and can find help.
In creating a relaxed atmosphere to their mental health week contribution, Kelly and James helped to organise a Birkenhead LDO "it's Good To Talk" cake & water morning with intention of "Getting our members talking about mental health!"
"We've give socially distanced huddles explaining about mental health week and explained to all members that when having their cake / water to start a socially distanced conversation about their mental health. So far it's going down really well!" said Kelly and James.
Photographs speak a thousand words and provide detail of the event today and the rest of the week in Birkenhead LDO:
Phil Tartt at Crosby Delivery Office is a CWU Mental Health First Aider providing support to his colleagues throughout the year as are so many in the CWU branches across the Royal Mail Group.
He sent unionsafety this photograph of the information available this week to his work colleagues via the CWU noticeboard in support of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week. Even with limited office facilities, Phil has been able to produce important information documents.
You can download a full contact list of all of the CWU Mental Health First Aiders and their workplaces. This is great information to keep in case you ever want to have a confidential chat, with a well trained understanding and non-judgemental work colleague trained in mental health awareness and support.
Download your CWU Mental Health First Aider directory here
A document produced by the CWU North West Region to help us all to identify and understand more about mental health and how it impacts the lives of everyone of us; is excellent and available to download from this website E-Library in PDF form.
But to get the best from it, click the picture below which will take you to the MS Sway on-line document which has access to videos embedded within the document.
No doubt CWU branches across the country are having similar events and activities this week, in order to highlight what has become a pandemic too, during these Covid times - negative impact on our mental health.
That also includes children and teenagers too.
Never before has advice, support and information been so needed, and above all the need to talk!
Contact the services below for free, confidential support.
Remember, you are not alone.
• Samaritans: 116 123
• Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (or text 86463)
• Workplace mental health support service: 0300 4568114
• Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): 0800 58 58 58
• Prevention of Young Suicide (Papyrus) 0800 068 41 41
Source: CWU North West Region / CWU Branches: Birkenhead LDO, Crosby DO, Warrington MPU / Jamie McGovern