To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Sally Rochester, a Director in the advisory team of Deloitte Guernsey, talks about her work with Mind Guernsey and how helping others can make a big difference to your own mental wellbeing as well as your local community.
Despite the fact that one in four people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their life, an overwhelming majority of people – 94 per cent – on the Channel Islands agree that there is stigma attached to mental health issues.
The Mind pan-island Mental Wellbeing Survey, which was conducted by a team of volunteers from Mind and Deloitte, not only discovered that more needs to be done to increase understanding of mental health issues, it also revealed just how uncomfortable people are with discussing their problems.
71% of those surveyed said they would be uncomfortable talking to their employer about their mental health concerns (compared to 66% of UK employees) and, more worryingly, nearly half said the same about talking to a friend or family member. This is why the work Mind does is so vital and why we have been working with them since 2013. The current focus of our support is through our social impact strategy, One Million Futures, which aims to remove barriers to education and employment.
You might be surprised to discover that just five people, four them working part-time, run Mind Guernsey, and between them they have a huge amount of responsibility – not just supporting those with mental health issues, but also working on prevention and mental wellbeing initiatives with employers, while helping to shape mental health policy. As part of Deloitte's wider national work with the charity, 2017 research revealed that 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year.
That is why the work of local volunteer teams is so important. In addition to the mental health survey of over 2,000 people, we have also provided pro bono support to refresh Mind Guernsey’s website and have helped them to design tools for their corporate clients to assess mental health support in the workplace.
This is specialist expertise to which they would not have otherwise have had access.
Our collaboration is also having an impact on us at Deloitte and our national Wellbeing strategy, which aims to create a culture that allows people to talk about their health concerns openly. In Guernsey our office is planning to trial new services which focus on wellbeing in the workforce. Eight members of our staff have also been trained as mental health First Aiders on courses run by Mind Guernsey, which has generated even more acceptance and understanding.
I hope that Mental Health Awareness Week will also encourage all of us to consider our own mental wellbeing, which, as I have discovered, can be greatly enhanced through volunteering.
We all lead busy lives. I have a demanding job and a young family and like many professionals, in the past I have felt I couldn’t make time in the day for anything else.
But, when I was given the opportunity to volunteer to support Mind Guernsey I didn’t hesitate for a moment. It has proved one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and has also given me an opportunity to contribute to the community in Guernsey, where I moved four years ago with my husband and two children.
I did not have any specific skills to help people with mental health issues but it turned out my professional skills would be the most valuable contribution I could give.