Tag Archives: mental health awareness week

This Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond, remember to say ‘no’ once in a while

For this year’s stress-themed Mental Health Awareness Week, I wanted to write about my experiences with mental health and campaigning and some of the lessons I’ve learned. Hopefully, some of it is useful for others in the party. 

To start off, I think it’s fair to say that most Liberal Democrat activists are campaigning for love, not money. 

That description certainly applies to me. I’m one of those people who loves to get out and knock on doors, man the phones, and rush through last-minute print runs. Politics is exciting, and a great doorstop conversation is almost as sweet as the first beer at the end of the day. 

And that makes the one-month deferral of the election in one of Southwark’s council wards something of a treat for me – after all, who doesn’t want to fight a very winnable by-election in the sun?

However, the extension is a bit of double-edged sword on a personal level. I say that because, several times in the last year, despite how much I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve had to slow down and step back from the campaign. Partly, that’s because I wanted to focus on looking for a new job, but equally it’s because I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I’d volunteered to do. 

In short, I’ve come to appreciate that I need to occasionally say ‘no’ and put my wellbeing first. 

This is a lesson I think many activists could do with learning. It’s taken me a while to crack. Back in 2014, I got a job as Constituency Organiser in Eastleigh, a bastion of Liberal Democrat campaigning. I wasn’t, in truth, the strongest addition to the team, lacking in experience and parachuted into a well-established operation with less than a year to go. 

This wasn’t exactly ideal, and I can’t say it did wonders for my mental health. I’m grateful to Rachel Palma Randle, who appropriately is now the party’s Director of People, for scooping me up after a serious wobble and making sure I got the support needed to make it through the campaign.

Looking back, what I lacked – in addition to a clue about how to do the job – was an appreciation of how to work smart, when to ask for help, and when to say ‘no’ to things that ultimately weren’t a priority. 

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme is this year is stress. Stress can pervade our lives, but one aspect is stress at work. Keeping a mentally-healthy workforce is best for everyone: the employees, the business and the customers.

Being self-employed as a musician, workplace stress has a slightly different connotation. I’m preparing this week for a solo piano recording on Friday. It can be highly stressful and intense, but I’ve done enough of these projects to know how to manage my stress.

And it is in managing stress that workplaces are now realising they need to put provisions in place. Stats show that mental ill-health cost UK businesses £35 billion last year. A massive sum, made up of absences for illness, lost productivity and staff turnover. And it doesn’t take into account the personal cost to each of those who suffer mental ill-health. Mental Health First Aid is being rolled out in many businesses.

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Opinion: Mental health support is for everyone – we all have brains to look after #MHAW15

I’m not having a life crisis. I’ve never suffered from depression or any other clinically recognised mental health condition. I’ve taken ownership of things that have happened to me in the past, the way they have affected my behaviour and made changes. Yet I still regularly visit a counsellor – why is that?

Is it because I wear a top-knot, work for a charity and hang out in bars in East London? Just another hipster tosser who cares too much about his own existence?

Well, maybe. But I don’t feel that way.

My backstory isn’t the point here, so I’ll only touch upon it briefly. As a kid in a working class setting, my young parents struggled to bring me and my brothers up and the stresses that came with it destroyed my relationship with them. I ended up kicked out at the age of 15, moved in with my grandparents and spent the best part of the next ten years shutting them out of my life.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments
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