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Time to talk day 2024

The best way to combat the stigma around mental health is by talking about it!

Time to talk day is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. A yearly event bringing people together to talk, listen and change lives. Here, Charlotte one of our network of 80 Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) gives us in an insight into her role, and why she believes a simple conversation can make a world of difference.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to HCA UK?

I’ve worked in both the NHS and private sector as a Medical Secretary for nearly 12 years now in areas including Orthopaedics, Sarcoma Oncology and Urology. I started working at HCA UK in April 2021 as a Senior Medical Secretary in Orthopaedics and then the following year I received a promotion to Practice Manager which is where I am currently.

What inspired you to become a Mental Health First Aider?

Because I recognise how important it is to have support available when you need it. Having lived experience of mental ill health myself I know how crucial this can be, especially if you’re feeling isolated and unsure where to turn for help. Having someone to talk to, either face to face or virtually can make all of the difference, even if it’s just a case of beginning a conversation and having someone neutral listen for a while. Having that network to talk to is invaluable.

My number one piece of advice is to start simple and ask open-ended questions such as “how are you feeling?” or “is there anything I can do to help?”

How exactly does the MHFA network support our colleagues?

The type of support will vary from colleague to colleague, sometimes it’s a conversation or we may signpost them to relevant resources or services. People can approach us with anything from work issues, to things that may be going on outside of work, or a mixture. Across the network we’ve got colleagues with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. We all have profiles on our intranet so colleagues can take a look see if someone is a good fit for them in terms of personal experience, or location for a quick face to face. We’re always looking to do more though and the MHFA network and Occupational Health teams have some exciting plans for 2024.

What is the most rewarding part of being a MHFA?

The most rewarding part is being there for my colleagues, knowing that I’m able to support them in their time of need. Whether that’s with a listening ear or signposting them to relevant resources or services. It’s a real privilege to be able to help colleagues at all levels of the business with whatever challenges they may be facing – mental health doesn’t discriminate.

Is there anything in particular that you took away from your training?

It was actually quite eye-opening to see just how many free resources are available out there for those who want to seek help, but aren’t able to speak to a healthcare professional right away. Discovering this has been invaluable, there’s information on everything including anxiety, menopause, stress etc. There’re even resources available for teenagers around topics such as social media use and cyber bullying.

Today is time to talk day, how important is a conversation in supporting Mental Wellbeing?

For me, a conversation is the most effective way we can work towards breaking down barriers and eliminating the stigma attached to mental health. Every conversation, no matter how long, can make a difference! If people were a bit more honest when they answer the question “how are you?” (because, let’s face it, “not too bad” generally doesn’t scratch the surface!) it would make such a big difference.

Find out more

Time to Talk Day is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. It’s run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and is being delivered in partnership with Co-op for the third year running. To find out more information about the day, or to access free resources and support please visit https://timetotalkday.co.uk/  or https://www.mind.org.uk/

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