Like diamonds for proposals, it’s no secret that Blue Monday was a concept cooked up by some savvy marketing people. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a force for good however. If it provides another reason to talk about mental health, we’re all ears.
When I graduated 20 years ago it felt like I lived a world that was so right-on when it came to everything. But looking back I realise that the length of time it took me to realise I had anxiety was indicative of me living in a world where it was not part of the conversation. If it had been as talked about as openly as it is now I (and those around me) would have clocked it sooner. Thankfully, the conversation around mental health as evolved unrecognisably since then and continues to become more and more part of everyday chat. We now know that we don’t have to answer, ‘how are you?’ with a hasty ‘fine thanks, you?’ (yet we still do, too often) and that tears aren’t something to try to hide (unless you want to).
I remember the first time I cried in an office, and I felt shame, embarrassment and that like I looked like someone who ‘couldn’t hack it’ in the Soho PR agency I was working in at the time (a reinforcement of my already red-hot imposter syndrome). Not so. I was supported, the kettle was boiled, and raggedy tissues fished from pockets, all excellent things, but back then there was no employee support programme to be signposted to. Now ESPs are par for the course in any larger businesses.
But we run a small but perfectly formed PR and marketing agency in Exeter and still want our team to feel that there is someone, as well as colleagues, to turn to should they need a bit of support. It could be for work or personal challenges, whatever is feeling difficult at the time. This month we introduced Spill at One Voice. Spill is a confidential employee support service where all of us can get easy access to qualified counsellors and therapists, free of charge. We can choose to message a therapist and get a response in writing or book a ‘face to face’ video chat session. What we love about this service is the immediacy of it, it’s there for all of us – as and when we need it.
There’s still a long way to go when it comes to mental health support across society and employers can lead the way on much of this. We’re really pleased to be partnering with Spill to offer this to our brilliant team.