Rhiannon is a Campaigns Officer for Mind.
I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression through university and my first few graduate jobs. There were times when I thought I would never cope with full-time work again. I remember coming across the job advert for Mind online and it was the first time I’d ever seen that it was ‘desirable’ to have a mental health problem in the person specification. To find an employer who actually viewed mental health problems as an asset was a really big deal for me.
"The benefits of working in an environment where people talk openly about mental health really can’t be overstated."
The benefits of working in an environment where people talk openly about their mental health really can’t be overstated. Professionally it helps me to reflect and understand how my mental health impacts my work, both positively and negatively, and how to manage this. Increasingly organisations have staff wellbeing policies and structures, but I feel at Mind it is also backed up with a genuinely caring and open culture. We look out for each other and help keep an eye out for anyone who needs a bit of support – even if it’s just a cuppa or a walk in the park.
"I get the support I need to not just recover when I’m unwell, but to stay well."
Before I worked here I’d had a mixed bag of experiences of mental health support at work. When I was most unwell, about six months into graduate employment, my employer wouldn’t allow me any time off sick. I had no employee support such as counselling or wellbeing policies. I remember sitting in a manager’s office having a panic attack, unable to breathe or speak. They clearly had no idea how to deal with someone in distress and just told me to get out.
At Mind I get the support I need to not just recover when I’m unwell, but to stay well and avoid problems arising in the first place. A big part of staying well is feeling confident that if things slide my line manager will support me. I’ve always been encouraged to speak up if my workload is too heavy, and say ‘no’ to work I don’t have the capacity for. It takes a lot of pressure off.
"There are so many ways to make a difference to the lives of other people."
As mental health covers such a broad range of areas, I hoped for new challenges. I definitely wasn’t disappointed! I’ve found there are so many ways to make a difference to the lives of other people, you can support someone through a half marathon, help lobby politicians or provide information to make people know they are not alone.
Now I work closely with colleagues across Wales and England, drawing on our expertise in lots of different areas. I’m really passionate about making change in Welsh communities, but I like collaborating across the border to make our work stronger and better informed. I particularly love our network of local Minds as they are often the first contact for those accessing support, and are so full of talented innovative people.
"I’d highly recommend Mind to anyone."