Mental health: why supporting others has made my job more meaningful

Published by Bupa guest author

10 September 2020 . United Kingdom

Every year in England one in four people will experience at least one kind of mental health problem. What’s more, with the impact of the pandemic still becoming clear, so experts believe this will continue to rise.

While many of us are beginning to recognise the importance of looking after our mental health, and some of the steps we can take do so, what is it like to help others for a living? We caught up with Caroline Rice, one of our Mental Wellbeing Coordinators, to find out.

As a Mental Wellbeing Coordinator at Bupa, my role involves supporting employees with their mental health.

I have worked at Bupa for 13 years mainly as a Team Manager, which I balanced alongside studying my master’s degree in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I’ve always had a passion for wanting to help people and I studied Psychology with Counselling Skills for my undergraduate degree along with volunteering in various roles such as the Samaritans, Women’s Centres and Schools.

Once I became qualified in CBT, I was so grateful to Bupa to be given the opportunity to continue working at the company and be able to utilise my skills and experience to support employees.

I strongly feel that everyone should be made aware of evidenced based coping strategies to be able to manage symptoms such as anxiety and depression and not have to wait until accessing therapy to learn these.

My new role started just before lockdown and I don’t think there could have been a more appropriate time! The past several months I have delivered remote mental wellbeing sessions (both for teams and one to one) to provide tips and coping strategies to look after employee’s wellbeing during the pandemic, along with adjusting to homeworking.

During these sessions I have provided low-level therapeutic interventions such as breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, information on sleep hygiene, and the importance of self-care.

From the team sessions it has been valuable to allow employees to come together to share how they have been feeling and to normalise feelings such as anxiety, low mood, anger, and to know they were not alone in feeling that way.

As part of my role I have been able raise awareness on the internal resources we have available such as our Employee Assistance Programme and the range of services they offer, online CBT programmes, along with our Performance Energy programme which aims to help individuals build a system to balance various pressures they are under at points in their life in order to maintain their energy and wellbeing.

I have also created resources for employees such as a ‘Switch off Guide’ to support employees with being able to dissociate their work life from their personal life based on the impact this was having. Elsewhere’ I’ve produced webinars on how to manage anxiety and shared CBT techniques to provide employees evidenced based coping strategies through what has certainly been a challenging time.

It’s incredibly rewarding to feel like I’m making a difference by supporting our people’s mental wellbeing. Like any job, it’s not always easy, but the great feedback from the colleagues makes it worth it. One of my favourite responses recently is below:

‘Just wanted to say thank you so much for the session today, it was nice to open up a bit and know it’s not just me struggling (not that I want other people to feel the same). I think it’s great that you and Bupa care about our mental health, not many companies are like and it makes me very proud to be part of Bupa.’

Bupa guest author