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Date: 10 October 2023

Author: Rachel Bartlett

World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, shines a light on the importance of mental wellbeing both at home, and at work.

Ellie Fitpatrick, our Senior Financial Accountant, joined the team in 2020 and is a founding member of the MSP Wellbeing Committee. 

She was joined in the interview by Duncan Ovens who arrived at MSP a year later in 2021. This year he trained as one of our four mental health first aiders.

Realising the importance of mental health

Over the interview, we touched on what inspired the pair to volunteer for roles like this at work. In response, Duncan discussed how his experience and knowledge about mental health changed over time. 

“When I was younger, I thought it happened to other people and not people that I was associated with. As I grew up, I had friends who had mental health crises and I only found out afterwards. I felt like I had missed something.” 

This revelation spurred him on to understand more, “I felt the need to be more proactive and educate myself. So, if there’s something to spot, I can see it. And if there isn’t, I can just ask anyway.”

Ellie’s experiences complement Duncan’s. “I’ve known people who’ve also suffered with their mental health, so it’s nice to be able to do something positive in line of that.

“Prior to working in finance, I did work in the care profession for a while. Mostly with adults suffering from mental health issues or dementia. I loved it and I always wanted to maintain some caring in my life. To be able to bring that into my professional life has been great.” she shared.

The Role of MSP Capital’s Wellbeing Committee

The MSP Wellbeing Committee was formed over a year ago. Made up of a group of volunteers at MSP, the committee look to promote mental wellbeing by signposting key education pieces, organising activities that help spread awareness of the importance of looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. 

“For mental health, it’s about increasing visibility within the company,” Ellie stated, highlighting the role of the wellbeing committee. Their main goal is to ensure employees are always reminded that they have support. “It’s not providing mental health first aid, but it’s about making mental health a constant on the agenda, helping destigmatise it.”

Duncan added, “I think that’s really important actually. Always having that open forum and talking about it, shows that everybody thinks it’s important and yeah it does reduce the stigma. What the wellbeing committee do, it does really help people talk more.”

The Significance of Mental Health First Aiders

Just over 9 months ago, alongside his fellow first aiders, Duncan took the Mental Health First Aid course. The company now have the same number of mental health first aiders, as there are physical health first aiders. 

“The training was enlightening” he shared. “I think we all took a lot away from it.”

The introduction of Mental Health First Aiders is more than just a label; it’s a commitment. Duncan elaborated, “The fact that we have these first aiders is a statement of intent. They may not always be the ones approached, but just having mental health first aiders shows that people can talk, and they will be supported.”

He went on to talk about the importance of open conversations, “The moment you start having proper conversations with people, you realise everybody is open to that. It’s their own preconceptions of what they think will happen that might hold them back. But equally they know that if someone came to them for help they would be there for them.”

Ellie agreed, “Exactly! Most people can, and want, to support others. But approaching someone yourself is the hard part. The challenge is in initiating the conversation and knowing how to encourage that dialogue.”

Actions Speak Louder

It’s clear that both Ellie and Duncan feel that the team at MSP are fully embracing mental wellbeing at work. We wanted to hear from them what they thought other companies should do to support their colleagues. 

Ellie emphasised the need for companies to listen and take action, “It’s really important that companies listen to their staff, and tailor their approach to the type of company they are.  Companies must consider the individual needs of their employees rather than just relying only on generic mental health resources.” 

She praised MSP Capital’s tangible actions, from supporting the wellbeing committee to encouraging the team to socialise and get to know each other – building important trust and friendship.

Duncan resonated with this sentiment, “I think we’ve both worked in places where people have always said how important it is, and how important their staff are to them, but that’s really as far as it ever goes. You’re told “oh you are important to us” and then the actions always suggest the opposite.  It really is about taking action and doing something tangible rather than just saying that.”

Ellie concluded, “Supporting people the way they want, rather than how you think they ought to be supported. Acknowledging that everyone is different, is the essence of true care in the workplace.”

Collective Responsibility

This World Mental Health Day, the takeaway is clear: everyone has a part to play when it comes to mental wellbeing. Through initiatives like wellbeing committees and training mental health first aiders, businesses can actively foster an environment that not only promotes conversation but also understands the uniqueness of each individual.

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