Rachel Fergusson, External Affairs Intern, Money and Mental Health
Introducing: Rachel Fergusson
8 September 2021
Starting a first job after graduating is daunting. From outfits to office etiquette, everything is a bit of an unknown. Mix it in with bouts of self doubt and all the other stresses that come with newly acquired adult status, and starting a first job becomes a formidable prospect. While I wasn’t expecting the team to be any less lovely than everyone says they are, my first week at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has been a pleasure.
Meeting my team face to face on the first day set a relaxed tone, and already I feel like a part of this small team. I’ve had a full-on week of catching up on current projects and getting to grips with how things work at Money and Mental Health, and I’m excited to get properly stuck in. One of the things I feel grateful for already is the team’s attention to wellbeing (yes, they practice what they preach!), having spent time drawing up my wellness action plan to help me feel supported and mentally healthy at work.
I have always had a strong interest in social issues, and mental health was a common thread that ran through them all. Through volunteering for a local food project in Edinburgh, where I grew up, I became acutely aware of how poverty and financial instability could affect mental health and reinforced each other to keep a person locked in a cruel cycle.
When I moved to London for university, I was immediately struck by the severity of the mental health crisis amongst young people, and frustrated by the culture at my university which prioritised academic success and career prospects over wellbeing. As a result, I became involved in an initiative which aimed to alter this culture, opening up spaces where honest discussions could be had about mental health at university and beyond. One thing that became quickly apparent was that the conversation around mental health on campus was confined to circles of white, middle class British students. Given the diversity of the student population in London, it was important to put those experiences at the heart of the campaign, with a focus on how race, nationality, culture and faith shape mental wellbeing as well as people’s experiences of services. As we continue to expand discussions around mental health, we must push to diversify those conversations so they reach and reflect the people who need them most.