Managing your mental health: Interview with Mechele Wimble
Ahead of our ‘Managing your mental health’ webinar, taking place on 19 May, Mechele Wimble, who is leading the training, shared her thoughts on understanding our mental health, spotting the signs of mental ill health, and how connecting with nature can help our mental wellbeing. Mechele is a trained mindfulness tutor and has worked in the public, private and voluntary sector.
What impact do you think the pandemic has had on mental health and emotional wellbeing?
I think that the pandemic has had quite an impact of people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. I think it may have increased depression, anxiety, and contributing factors like loneliness.
The World Health Organization defines health as having a fulfilling physical, mental and social wellbeing. Over the past 18 months, we have not all had the opportunity to have all of those contributing factors in our lives. During the pandemic, many have faced lower incomes and loss of jobs and been unable to visit family and friends or to contribute to their usual communities and, therefore, may not have felt valued. There have been many changes in people’s lives in a short space of time, extra demands have included home schooling while learning new technology to enable some to continue working from home.
What are some of the signs of poor mental health?
There are different signs and symptoms for mental ill health, depending on the diagnosis and the person. What we do know is that there is a change in the person which can affect someone’s mood, thinking and behaviour.
Why does good mental health at work matter?
Working is good for us.
Going to a mentally healthy workplace is good for us. At work, we can feel that we are contributing to the organisation or community, we are able to help and support others, it gets us out of the house and gives us a feeling of purpose, we see and interact with others, we feel valued, and we get paid for it.
Sadly, mental ill health is one of the leading contributors to workplace absenteeism.
By promoting good mental health and wellbeing at work, it can reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and help staff retention.
How can we support ourselves and others?
By being good to ourselves and others. We need to give ourselves a break by taking time out. If we need help, we need to be able to ask, in the workplace, or by going to our doctor and not feel the need to hide the symptoms in fear of bullying, being stigmatised or being judged. There are many specialists which your doctor can support you to find, there are websites and phone helplines.
First steps can include speaking to someone, confiding in someone you trust and feel will not judge you.
If you are concerned about someone else, ask them how they are feeling, and, if they do not want to talk, let them know you will not judge them and that you are there to listen and not trying to fix everything, and, when they are ready, to just ask.
Being active can be difficult when you are feeling low, but taking small steps and going outside and being with nature will help you focus on something else. Exercise is good for us both physically and mentally. It does not have to be strenuous; it is a break from any negative thoughts we may be having or the walls which may be making us feel cramped.
As a friend, your listening skills are very important, please do not try to fix everything or tell people how or what they should do, everyone is different, and this is their experience.
Having a good sleep pattern also helps our mental health as does reducing or eliminating drugs and alcohol.
How can we promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of mental health issues?
There are many ways we can promote wellbeing and tackle some of the causes of mental ill health, however, I feel, firstly, we need to tackle stigma and bullying. I feel stigma is still a major contributor to mental ill health and wellbeing and part of the reason why some people do not seek the support they may benefit from at an early stage.
There are so many interesting ways to promote wellbeing and tackling mental health issues at work, including promoting awareness about mental health and mental ill health. Having a good work/life balance, take breaks and, if you can, have a meeting outside walking and talking. Organisations need to have mental health policies and strategies and not beat around the bush; people need to know where they stand or who they can go to if they are having a mental health crisis. Having several staff members trained on how to support colleagues can be a great point of call.
Overall, what is good for our mental health and wellbeing is talking, having meaningful interactions with others, good diet and exercise and having some time for ourselves and family and friends.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is nature. How do you connect with nature? How do you believe connecting with nature can help our mental health?
Being with nature can help our mental health and wellbeing by being in the moment. It is said that nature helps, reduce stress, keeps us calm and helps reduce some anxiety and depression.
Living in Scotland, I grasp every opportunity I can to spend time in the sunshine. I love going out and exploring nature, the water, the flowers and the wonders of new beginnings.
During the beginning of lockdown, it was recommended that we went out for a 30 minute walk each day. The walk each day helped us feel less isolated and was one of the many coping strategies during the height of the pandemic. The 30 minutes was enough time to break up the day and connect with nature.
I really enjoyed my walk each day, sometimes on my own and other times with my husband. The time helped me rediscover my local treasures and being in the sunshine really lifted my spirits. It gave us something else to focus on, talk about and enjoy.
I also spend time pottering with the plants I have growing on my balcony – strawberries, flowers and, even, potatoes, watching things grow and the birds gives me the opportunity of being in the moment and not worrying about anything else.
Being with nature does not mean always going for walks, there is so much more you can do outside, including taking photos of nature; skipping stones; and, inside your home or office, you can have prints of nature or even some plants or do some mindfulness while listening to some beautiful sounds of nature which helps to bring your mind to a relaxing state.
Wishing you all good mental health – Mechele.
Secure your place now:
Managing your mental health, 19 May – 09:30 to 10:30
Tickets for this training session are priced from £95 for SFHA members. During Mental Health Awareness Week, if you use the code MHWEEK you will get a 10% discount on your booking.
To book your place for this event, please visit the SFHA Live! section of our website.
Where to get help for you or someone else
If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 999 or go to your nearest A&E. For non-emergency situations, you can contact your doctor or call NHS 111 (24-hours, seven days a week).
You can also contact the following organisations:
24-hour helpline offering emotional support to anyone feeling down, distressed, suicidal or struggling. You do not need to be experiencing suicidal thoughts or be suicidal to call, and you can also contact Samaritans if you are worried about someone else.
Phone: 116 123
A confidential out of office hours telephone line for people experiencing low mood, suicidal thoughts, anxiety or depression.
Opening hours: weekdays: Monday–Thursday 18:00 to 02:00.
Weekend: Friday 18:00 to Monday 06:00.
Phone: 0800 83 85 87
Text SHOUT to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, text YM if you are under 19.