World Mental Health Day

8 Oct 2021 15:12PM by Chemayne Sarwar – Head of Wellbeing

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This World Mental Health Day, we caught up with our Head of Wellbeing, Chemayne Sarwar to hear all about her hard work rolling out Mental Health First Aid training throughout Virgin Active UK.

“What is mental health?”

As a society, we don't always tend to know how to take care of our mental health like we do our physical health. Which means that people may not know how to support a friend, family member or colleague experiencing a mental health concern, or where to go for support with their own mental health. We often think of our mind and body as separate, but our mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, and equally important to maintain positive wellbeing. 

“What is Mental Health First Aid Training?”

As a business that naturally focuses on wellbeing, we are fortunate to have in house experts and teams who are able to support both our members and our people. However, this year we wanted to venture one-step further by introducing Mental health First Aid training.

The aim of Mental Health First Aid training is to help people develop skills and learn tools to support their own mental health and that of others. Although things are improving, stigma still exists around mental health and the two-day course addresses topics such as language and perceptions of mental health concerns to help break down these barriers. 

“What will team members take away from the course?”

The course teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue. MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, but it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening. Recognising the warning signs of mental ill health, and developing the skills and confidence to approach and support someone while keeping yourself safe.

We all know that wellbeing is good for business, that healthy people are happier, more engaged and productive. MHFA is one piece of our wider wellbeing strategy and our hope is that by empowering our people and giving them the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aiders this will contribute to providing a mentally healthy environment for people to thrive.

“What is your goal for Mental Health First Aid Training?”

Our goal is for 1 in 10 team members to be trained in MHFA by 2025, with a rolling monthly internal course open to all team members and an external offering through our Academy. 

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