An EY First Aider’s tips for managing mental health

Stress ball 300EY take their employees’ mental health seriously; so much so, that they have trained over 700 Mental Health First Aiders to provide support and guidance. Susie Gray, who is also a Senior Employee Relations Manager, outlines the top ​five things we can all do to help keep our minds as healthy as possible:

1. Find out more about it

People tend to equate poor mental health with acute conditions such as depression and anxiety. In reality, many of us are dealing with lower-level everyday issues such as low mood, feeling under pressure or lacking concentration. Prevention is better than cure, so it’s worth understanding how you might be affected and what action you can take. We run regular webinars which cover these everyday concepts, as part of our Thrive EY programme.

2. Be as active as you can

The positive impact that physical activity can have on mental health is widely known, so we can all help ourselves feel better by being more active. That doesn’t mean training for a triathlon; small steps such as getting up to speak to someone rather than emailing, or going for a walk at lunchtime, all add up.

At EY we’re investing in kit such as stand-sit desks and walking desk treadmills; we’ve even built an activity room in one of our offices to help people get moving. We’re also launching a project to encourage people to choose the stairs over the lifts where possible.

3. Speak up and ask for help

If you feel like you’re struggling, it’s best to be open with your employer about it, so you can get any help you need more quickly. We’ve created a ‘psychological care pathway’ to directly refer employees for counselling, but even if your employer doesn’t have something formal in place, they can still support you. If they don’t know, they can’t help.

4. Build a support network

Having people around you that you trust, and can talk to if you need to, is vital. For many people that means friends and family outside work, but your office can also be a great source of friendships and fun.

Some workplaces have clubs and groups you can join to support this. For example, EY have a range of employee networks, including an increasingly popular one focusing on mental health, where people can build relationships with colleagues from a whole range of backgrounds. We also have a wide range of sports teams from football and netball to badminton and running, and we organise social events at which our people can build their networks and enjoy themselves.

5. Work flexibly

Flexible working is embedded in EY’s culture, and in my view, it is one of the biggest de-stressors. Whether you are reducing your weekly commute time by working part of the week from home, negotiating a reduced-hours contract to juggle your other responsibilities, or taking an extended lunch break to fit in a run, the ability to work in the way that suits you best can really benefit your mental wellbeing.

You can find out more about how EY approach flexible working, and get tips on how to make it work for you, by visiting the flexible working hub on EY's website. You can also view flexible jobs at EY on Timewise Jobs.

This article has been written in association with EY, one of our Timewise partners.

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