It’s Mental Health Awareness week


‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’ is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024.

We know that regular physical activity can improve mental health and quality of life, as well as bringing physical benefits. Not all of us are running marathons or logging serious mileage on the bike, movement is one aspect of mental health which can be introduced into our working life alongside many other beneficial habits.

LionHeart, the independent charity for RICS professionals past and present, and their families, exists to bring mental health support in line with the needs of our working lives. They have a wealth of knowledge and a valuable set of services which are tailored to help professionals whenever life throws them a curve ball in their careers. Have a look at their website here for more information.

As well as being supported by LionHeart’s great work, we are lucky enough to have six Mental Health First Aiders among the TFT team. These volunteers are there to help those who need it in the moment, because crises and challenges can arise at any time.

If you need some guidance you can visit the Mental Health First Aid England website.

TFT’s Mental Health First Aiders are:

Lorna Melton-Scott – Head of HR

Lisa Collings – HR & Ops Network Executive

Neil Granger – Senior Director

Mollie Earnshaw – Senior Marketing and Events Manager

Julia Cox – Office Manager

Mental Health First Aid: what is it, and why do we need it?

We took a chance to speak To Lisa Collings about why she became a Mental Health First aider and what more we can do in the workplace to support our colleagues’, and our own, mental wellbeing:

What made you want to be a Mental Health First Aider?

I wanted to become a MHFA primarily because I wanted to be able to help others in the same way that help was given to me when I needed it. Life can be extraordinarily challenging at times and having someone who can listen and who understands how you’re feeling makes such a huge difference to your mental health. Being heard and supported when you are at your most vulnerable is so important.

How do you feel having Mental Health First aiders benefits the workplace?

I think having MHFA’s at work demonstrates a genuine care for everyone who works at TFT. Most of us spend a minimum of 7.5 hours a day working, 5 days a week. It’s imperative that we look out for each other when we spend so much time working alongside each other. We are all human and will experience trials and challenges at some stage of our lives, looking out for each other at work and learning how to offer support is a vital part of the work environment. Our people are our greatest asset, we need to take good care of us!

How can we/the workplace do more to improve Mental Health at work?

Improving mental health at work can be simply making sure you have a lunch break, or having a walk to reset yourself when things get too much. Checking in on someone who is looking fraught or upset, suggest getting a coffee to open a conversation if you’re worried about someone. Also, we have our weekly fitness sessions which is a great way to get some movement into your day which kick starts the endorphins. Controlled breathing is an effective stress reduction method, take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds and then gently slowly exhale through your mouth, lowering your shoulders as you breathe out.

What are some things that we can all put into our day to day to improve our own and our colleagues’ Mental Health?

There are many elements involved in improving our mental health, some are well known, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, making sure we get some exercise and getting out in nature whenever possible. There are also lesser-known ways of improving our mental wellbeing, for example did you know that humming can reduce stress?! And that colouring in can calm the brain and decrease your heart rate? I’m a fan of Headspace , aside from the many wonderful guided meditations and sleep aids they have mini meditations that you can do at your desk if you hit a stress flash point. Breathing as mentioned above is another proven method of creating calm.

Some other favourites of mine for coping with stressful times:

  • It’s good to talk, sometimes just sharing a problem with someone lightens the load and gives you a little more clarity.
  • Writing things down is another way of unravelling unruly thoughts and giving your mind a bit of order when it gets chaotic, or creating some simple mind maps to work out a problem.
  • Journalling is an effective way of making sense of things when emotions and stress get a bit overwhelming.
  • Music is always a powerful tool, whether it’s blasting some Foo Fighters or playing some ambient, calming sounds. Music is therapeutic.