Our Mental Health Awareness Week webinar on 14 May was hugely popular. Many people attended live viewings around the country. Here’s a report kindly provided by Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray, about the viewings her firm hosted in Bath, Cardiff and London, and about the key take-home points from the webinar presenters.
Abel & Imray were really pleased to be able to host the Mental Health webinar: “Time to Listen, Time to Act” on 14th May in our offices in London, Bath and Cardiff, chaired by Andrea Brewster.
It was great to have lots of internal interest but also Susi, Rachel, Lucie, Sharon, Martina, Alice and Megan from other IP firms joined us.
We heard from Graham McCarthy of Jonathan’s Voice first. I think most, if not all, of us found the statistics on mental health issues very worrying. The statistics that in the UK, i) if you are male and between 21-35 you are three times more likely to die from suicide than from a road traffic accident, and that ii) the biggest risk of an untimely death for a man aged between 20 and 49 is himself, were especially upsetting.
As you can see from the photos below, we only had one man (thank you, Philip) at the webinar in London:
…and only one man (our senior partner, Jim) in Bath:
This does seem to show that perhaps men do find talking about these issues and opening up much harder. Although I should add that Cardiff had much more of a gender mix as the whole office joined in (no photo, unfortunately!).
Graham also discussed the statistics concerning workplace stress and how nearly 70% of respondents in last year’s CIPA survey had felt they “were not up to the job”. The survey noted that deadlines and conflict with personal life were a couple of the biggest factors to stress. Clearly, us IP-folk need to ensure we look after our mental health.
Graham also talked about the 5 key ways we can do this:
1) connect – with colleagues, friends and family etc.
2) be active – find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your life
3) take notice – be aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings
4) learn – e.g. a new skill
5) give – small acts of kindness
Of course, it is also important to look after each other and have proper conversations about how people are. Not just “are you ok?” but “are you really ok?” Graham gave some tips on listening, including being open with body language, taking the other person seriously and not making dismissive remarks such as “pull yourself together”.
Finally, Graham emphasised the importance of removing the stigma of talking about mental health issues as it is so important that those needing help feel able to get that help and be able to open up to others.
It was then really useful to hear from Vanessa Stainthorpe of HGF and Avril Martindale of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who have both had mental health first aider training. They spoke about the training and the skills and confidence it has given them. It was clear that providing mental health first aid training is something that is enormously beneficial, in fact essential, to companies, and I am glad to say that it is something we are hoping to be able to provide very soon at Abel & Imray.
After the webinar officially finished, we had a little discussion around the table in London. One of the things we spoke about was how often we answer the “how are you?” question with “I’m fine” without really thinking about it or perhaps even feeling we cannot actually answer honestly. It just shows that we do need to ask “are you really ok?” every so often to enable a proper connection and be able to help each other.
Some of those in Bath made sure they had a walk around the block in the sun, to have a break from being inside the office all day and to get some fresh air. This is certainly something we all should make sure we do if we need it, especially on days where the lunch hour is taken up by webinars or other meetings.
Many thanks to the webinar presenters and to everyone for contributing ideas, discussion and experiences so openly.