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First, I'd like to say that I did not want to write this blog.
Having seen that it was Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May), I raised the question: What are CPL doing to help our mental health at work?
I suggested it might be nice, perhaps, if someone within the company write an honest blog to raise awareness; no-one in particular – just anyone but me.
The moment the email bounced into my inbox stating ‘You do it', my stress levels began to build. I could feel my palms getting sweaty at the thought of my colleagues – many of whom, I might add, write all day every day for a living – scrutinising my every word. And what would I have to say that would be relevant to mental health anyway?
This is all completely ironic, of course, given that the topic for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is 'Stress'.
But after scratching my head, thinking about what to write – because I feel my mental health is OK – I realised stress had featured largely in my life last year.
I joined CPL in January 2017. Shortly after my 24th birthday, in the February, I was called for an unexpected smear test, after a routine doctor’s appointment highlighted some concerns. I had high-grade pre-cancerous cells and, over the next six months, I was poked, prodded, burned, bandaged and asked to drop my knickers for a total of seven doctors!
I was having heart palpitations at the thought that, maybe, I should start writing my will; I was picking the coffin I would like and imagining, over and over, who would turn up to the big day (I've always been dramatic).
But the other big stress was having to take time off work for hospital appointments, making calls to the doctor during work hours, and needing days off to recover – all while trying to impress my new employer.
I actually had nothing to worry about; I was supported by my line manager without question during those six months. He listened to me and offered advice where he could, even though I had been with the company only a few months.
Allowing me those extra 10 minutes in the morning to call the doctor (more like 20, as they never answered!); driving me to the hospital for a few more hours of being prodded and poked; or just asking 'How are you doing?' after noticing I wasn't chatting as much as usual (I do love to talk) – all of these small gestures amounted to one large picture of who CPL are and how they treat their staff, something I had not been used to in previous jobs.
Having witnessed limitless compassion at CPL during employees’ stressful life moments – such as the death of a loved one, buying their first 'home', or even breaking bones after colliding with cars – I can answer the question 'What are CPL doing to help our mental health at work?'
They help by remembering that, although you are an employee, you are also a mum, dad, nephew, friend, colleague, nan, granddad and – most importantly – human. You have a life outside of work that can affect your mental health, and your worries don't magically disappear when you step over the office threshold.
CPL recognise it’s the support network around you that reduces your worry and stress levels – and everyone has a part to play in that.