Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Mental Health and Wellbeing // 16th May 2019

Just in case you’re not aware, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Mental Health Awareness Week is an initiative spearheaded by The Mental Health Foundation. Their vision is for a world with good mental health for all and their mission is to help people to thrive through understanding, protecting and sustaining their mental health.

Mental health is a topic close to our hearts at Yozu – some of us have personal experience with mental health issues (whether it be with family, friends or ourselves) and some of us have worked very closely with others who’ve struggled with poor mental health.

Yozu aren’t a small company anymore. When I started here there was me (Rich, nice to meet you) and 6 others. Back then it was pretty easy to tell if someone was having a bad day – you wouldn’t get a “good morning” when someone walked in, or their side of the office would be a lot quieter than usual. When that was the case, you could jump on Hipchat (we use Slack now, don’t worry) and subtly ask if everything is OK.

A few years on and there’s 39 of us, with the intention of getting to 50 in the next month or two. There are any number of challenges associated with growing a business from 6 to 50 people, but one of the most pressing concerns is how we can keep looking out for each other at 50 as well as we did at 6.

It’s with all of this in mind, we decided Mental Health awareness week would be a good opportunity to share some of our thoughts/feelings/useful resources/coping mechanisms.

One of the most important things to remember is that you’re not alone. In fact, the 2016 Fundamental Facts study showed that as many as 1 in 6 adults experienced a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression) each week.

Really, you’re not alone.

Secondly, talk to someone! One of our software developers swears by the following:

Find at least one person (at work) that you can rant to!

We’re firm believers that everyone should have a mentor. Whether your mentor helps you see the solution to a bug that’s been driving you crackers or sits there and listens to you rant about how terrible your utility company is (I’ve been there), the most important thing is that you’re sharing the mental burden with someone.

You’ll no doubt have heard the recommendation that physical activity (such as running/walking/cycling/”fresh air”) can be beneficial when it comes to maintaining good mental health. This is certainly the case for me, but actually getting out and doing something in the first place was my biggest hurdle. I can talk myself out of pretty much anything, so the prospect of an early morning run or an hour of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training for those not in the know*) after a full day at work was an easy thing to convince myself I didn’t want to do.

If you’re struggling with how to take that first step too (literally and figuratively), there are resources like NHS UK’s “One You” site. It’s purpose is to help you make small changes that fit your life and allow you to feel better and healthier every day. There are loads of easy tips and ways to help you find your feet and hit the ground running, from a brisk walk to a couch to 5k (#sorrynotsorry for all of the running metaphors).

Yozu is still a young company, despite its numbers and the idea of companies having a specific mental health at work policy is still a relatively new one. We acknowledge there’s still more to do but we’re certainly heading in the right direction

  • We’ve just moved into a new office with LOADS of lovely, natural light.
  • You pretty much can’t move for plants – a simple change providing big benefits.
  • We’ve a gorgeous rooftop garden for sunny afternoon lunches (thanks Bruntwood).
  • We make a point of celebrating together (some events bigger than others but each as important as the next).
  • We have a team lunch every wednesday (Yozu pays for the pizzas but we’re under no obligation to eat them – some of us prefer healthier options)

There are some great local and national resources available if you’d like to read more or you feel you need to talk to someone (you should).

Local Resources

  • https://www.talkliverpool.nhs.uk/ – Talk Liverpool are a free NHS service offering psychological therapies to adults in Liverpool who are feeling stressed or anxious.
  • https://liverpool-light.org.uk/ – Liverpool Light is a preventative out-of-hours mental health crisis service, open from 6pm to 12am, 7 days a week.
  • 3D Liverpool – The first gym to which I’ve ever been! I’m including this because it very intentionally caters for physical and mental wellbeing. The owner does fantastic work with mental health charities/organisations and those who suffer from mental health issues.

National Resources

* When I say “those not in the know” I feel I should make it clear that before October last year I’d never even seen the inside of a gym in my 35 years on this planet.