Liam Hill, Intern, Money and Mental Health
Introducing: Liam Hill
20 July 2018
I started to properly think about my own mental health for the first time while I was at university, but I didn’t understand the strength of the link between personal finance and mental health until a couple of years ago, after I had graduated. That was when I found out how anxiety had affected a close family member and their ability to manage financially and plan for the future.
That is a big part of the reason why, when I found out about this internship just over a month ago, it went straight to the top of my list of opportunities to apply for. And why I was absolutely delighted to be offered the role.
My first week
Starting a new job can be a stressful process. I know, for example, that in previous roles I have found myself becoming anxious about forgetting my colleagues’ names, or trying to absorb as much of the subject matter as quickly as possible, in a way that ends up being overwhelming rather than helpful.
I say this partly in the spirit of being open about these things, but also to highlight some of the ways in which Money and Mental Health, as perhaps you might expect, is aware and progressive when it comes to looking after its employees’ mental wellbeing.
My first week here has involved fairly evenly-distributed induction sessions with the rest of the team to help me understand their work and how I fit in. I’m also in the process of writing a wellbeing action plan, based on the guide produced by Mind, which should help both myself and my line manager to identify what kind of work environment and habits suit me, and any signs that I might be stressed or unwell.
We are all increasingly aware of not just our own mental wellbeing, but hopefully too the mental wellbeing of the people around us. These are some of the small steps employers can take to make not just new starters but all employees feel valued, welcomed and at ease.
Work and culture
Fewer than half of people with long-term depression and anxiety are in work. Employers can help to change that by fostering a culture that maximises awareness and minimises stigma; by training staff, especially managers, to recognise signs of poor mental health and support their colleagues; by offering some flexibility in terms of hours and leave; and by catering to reasonable adjustments to work patterns and duties. Employers can also sign up to the mindful employer charter, as Money and Mental Health has done.
There is plenty more that employers can do to go above and beyond to support their employees with their mental wellbeing, and not just because it’s the right thing to do. Various studies have shown strong links between increased productivity and a workplace culture that fosters and supports employee wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundation estimates that organisations could see up to a 12% increase in productivity as a result.
Perhaps my interest in culture and mental health in the workplace stems from the fact that I have experienced something of a range of jobs over the past few years. My first paid jobs were in factories and warehouses in Newton Abbot, where I worked during summer or Christmas to earn some money between terms at university. And in the past six months, I’ve been working as an intern in public affairs and PR.
Last summer, I worked as a researcher for the Times Guide to the House of Commons, researching and writing profiles of MPs and their constituencies. The spring before that, before I started my master’s degree, I worked in Devon, as a full-time local organiser for the Remain campaign: a rewarding but intense role.
I’m really pleased to have joined the team here at Money and Mental Health, and impressed by their commitment to practise what they preach. I’ve no doubt at all that I will learn a lot in my six months here. I hope as well as pushing myself and gaining new skills, my time here will make me better able to support my family and friends too.