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SMI Marks Mental Health Awareness Week with New Support for Colleagues

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 poster

Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. SMI recently launched two initiatives to ensure we’re doing all we can to support colleagues in this challenging area. SMI now has two Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA). We also launched our Andover to Perth Challenge, which gives our team a great reason to get outdoors and connect with Nature, the theme of this year’s Mental Health Week. 

A MHFA is a trained point of contact who provides reassurance and sign-posting to information for colleagues who need mental health support. Two of our staff members, Catherine Jennings and Chris Noakes, agreed to attend a course and recently qualified as MHFA. 

Both now have a greater understanding of mental health and the factors affecting it. They are also better able to identify signs and symptoms for a range of conditions. Through the training, they are equipped to step in and hold supportive conversations with someone experiencing a mental health issue or crisis, providing reassurance and signposting people to professional support. 

The MHFA role is not for everyone. It can be emotionally demanding and requires a unique set of personal skills. Catherine and Chris are both very approachable and supportive, while also being resilient and able to establish and maintain boundaries. We are very grateful to them for stepping forward to help their colleagues.

As well as raising money for Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK, our Andover to Perth Challenge will see participating team members venturing outdoors with members of their household, contributing to our team goal of 9,000 miles while enjoying all the delights that the British countryside has to offer.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, which organises Mental Health Awareness Week, recently wrote,

“Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.” 

Through our new MHFA resources and our Challenge, we are offering practical, positive support to our colleagues, help which may make a world of difference to someone.