This week (18-22 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW), which promotes good mental health for all and raises awareness of mental health problems. Tina Chummun, Apprenticeship Delivery Coach for Seetec Outsource is also a practising psychotherapist and urges everyone to take extra care to nurture their mental health during the coronavirus lockdown.
Around a quarter of people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. “Mental health has no boundaries, it affects everybody, we all have anxieties and stresses during our lives,” explains Tina Chummun.
Tina joined Seetec Outsource as an Apprenticeship Delivery Coach (ADC) in February and is currently working with over 40 learners on PR and Communications programmes.
She urges all employees to take the time and responsibility to look after their emotional health, especially during the current uncertain situation. She explains: “I use the analogy of taking care of your garden. In the same way as you would nourish and look after your garden, clear out the weeds and continually maintain it, is exactly how you have to regularly take care of your mental health.”
Tina practises as a qualified person-centred psychotherapist, counselling people who have suffered severe traumas, including domestic violence and sexual abuse. She has recently been accepted onto a part-time Psychotherapy Doctorate programme at Metanoia Institute, where she will be conducting professional research relating to mental health at work.
She uses her psychotherapy skills when communicating with apprentices who are experiencing any mental health issues, providing extra guidance to help them to cope with their anxieties. Currently this includes reassuring learners as they adapt to their new home-based routines and online work environments.
“As a person-centred psychotherapist, I need to understand my client’s perspective and provide an emotionally safe environment for them. As an ADC, it helps me to establish rapport with apprentices and colleagues, to understand where they are coming from and how to respond to them.”
Tina is currently working, remotely, with Government Communications Service learners in different government departments.
Two of her apprentices, Hugh Lamkin and Poppy Tavender, have set-up ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ virtual coffee mornings for their team as part of a programme of themed days set up to help bring the team together and provide space for discussion around the personal and professional impact of the current social distancing measures.
Hugh explained: “When we were told to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. I was immediately worried about my own mental health and the mental health of others.
“I proposed we set up a virtual coffee morning where people could have a chat and check in with each other to keep spirits up and replicate our usual team interaction. We think it is positive for more junior members of the team to run the sessions as it makes them less imposing.
“With Poppy’s positive mindset, we have evolved the idea to a well organised weekly session themed around a ‘quarantine question’ with activities and guest speakers. The questions prompt natural conversation and are a way to give each other tips on how to cope during a very weird time in our lives.”
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Tina is their guest speaker at this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday session, discussing how to deal with anxiety and depression during lockdown. Her advice ranges from deep breathing when feeling anxious to meditation, regular journaling and getting outside for long walks.
She concluded: “Mental health at work is becoming increasingly important, with one in six people in England reporting that they experience a problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week. The key is to look after yourself and to know how to work on your emotional self. We are social beings and there is support available to everyone, you don’t have to do this on your own.”
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week