Penny Dew is Finance Director and a proud Champion for Mental Health at Pexhurst. Here, Penny talks about changing employees' perception of mental health and providing them with the confidence to have open conversations about their mental wellbeing.
What's the one thing you wish people knew about mental illness?
I wish people knew how easy it is to put on a brave face and mask our true feelings. It doesn’t matter how ‘strong’ you are, mental illness affects everyone, regardless of age, race or gender.
As a mental health champion, how do you support colleagues under both normal circumstances and now during COVID-19?
Talking. I can talk for England - my colleagues can attest to that! - and because I know it can be difficult for people to talk about the problems they’re facing, I always try to open those conversations. Something as simple as a casual chat can become an opportunity for someone to open up.
With COVID-19, that’s the case now more than ever. I have regular calls with my colleagues and we’ve also set up a company WhatsApp group so that we all feel connected during this time.
Picking up on non-verbal cues is equally as important but admittedly much harder now that a lot of us are working remotely. With many of us having worked together for so long, I can often tell when something’s not quite right.
What's your advice to those - especially site staff - who may be experiencing levels of anxiety or fear at the thought of returning to work?
You are not alone. Very understandably, lots of us are experiencing levels of anxiety but it’s really important to share and talk about those feelings. I’d also take the opportunity to reassure my colleagues that we have all the workplace safety measures in place to ensure that we’re all both physically and mentally safe, whether that’s working from the office or back on site.
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