CSM Diaries

17 May 2023

A Reminder: What’s Available to CloserStill Employees for Mental Health Support

A Reminder: What’s Available to CloserStill Employees for Mental Health Support
Train strikes, global pandemics, flooded venues, speaker cancellations…Working in events keeps us on our toes. Some things we can plan for, and some teach us how to safeguard for future occurrences. Perhaps the only guarantee when working in events is that there will always be periods pressure and stress which (for some of us) can develop into anxiety.

The current average for the UK estimates that 37.1% of women and 29.9% of men reported high levels of anxiety, and almost 60% of the population experienced low to very low anxiety levels in 2022*. So, it’s probably no surprise that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety and finding a way to deal with it. 

I have suffered with anxiety over the years, but I’ve always been fortunate enough to find relief while at work at CloserStill. Whether this help has been found via an empathetic line manager, guidance provided by the HR department or various training courses I’ve attended. So, this Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve collated all the resources available to you to support your mental health while at work in one place. Even if you're fighting fit at the top of your mental game, please take a moment to review the below, as it could help one of your fellow CloserStillians. 

Please note: none of the resources below should be considered an alternative to medical advice. If you are experiencing chronic or acute mental health issues, please get in touch with a medical professional. 

Employee Assistant Programme (EAP)

Log into our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and check out the support on offer. It’s specifically designed to give you tools to combat a range of hurdles. This includes confidential counselling, 24 hour support, life coaching and work/life balance advice. It can be accessed in all the languages that CSM has local offices in, so can be used by our global team. There’s so many videos, PDFs, links and resources that can be engaged with right now, even specialist advice for budgeting, families, parents, grief and loss, and on women's and men's health. To access this service today:    

Mental Health First Aiders

In terms of urgent assistance, several of our staff have been trained in Mental Health First Aid. Although Mental Health First Aid should never be considered a replacement for long-term treatments or medical attention, these team members do know what to do in an emergency. They can execute protocols when it comes to things like counter-acting anxiety attacks, and who to contact on your behalf if you’re unwell. Members of the Mental Health First Aiders in the UK are Simona Jevdokimovaite, Garry Tyson, Rena Zhou, Aidan Gibbs, Stephanie Ormerod, Debbie Wilson and myself, and Georgie May for Singapore. 

Your Manager

Sometimes just talking to your line manager about your head space will immediately relieve some pressure. Some of our managers have undergone management training, and all have a wealth of experience so they will be able to help manage your tasks and create a plan that will help you focus. They should also be able to signpost you toward additional resources when needed. 

(Note for UK managers - there is specialist mental health training coming up on the 6th June! Keep an eye on your calendar for your invitation or contact the HR team to learn more). 

Training - Webinars & In-Person

On the note of training, from time to time CloserStill as a company provide internal and external training opportunities. There is plenty available for our staff through our EAP. When Mental Health training is available (whether for yourself or you as a team member) - take the opportunity to up-skill. You never know when it will come in handy (personally or professionally). The EAP also has a good library of resources and webinars that you can sign up at any time, inclusing specifics for managers on how to handle team members who might need additional support. 

Our HR Department

HR have a very important role to play when it comes to supporting the mental health of our workforce. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your line manager, a senior leader in the company or a friend at work, having a confidential chat to our HR team may help. HR will reiterate the resources available to you and when necessary help support you in discussing your mental health.

AEO Toolkit

CloserStill is a member of the Association of Event Organisers and as such we have access to a range of benefits and resources. The AEO have put together the "Heads Up" took kit which contains a library of links and case studies for improving, maintaining and looking after mental and physical health for event professionals. 

Visit AEO Heads Up Tool Kit

Some Anxiety-Busting Basics 

It's important to remember that there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer to building strong mental health, and there is no substitute for long-term, productive habits (eat more veggies and exercise!) and of course, professional medical attention. However, there are some proven things you can do to help you in the here and now.

Here are my top 5 anxiety quick wins: 

  1. Breathing exercises: sit in a comfortable position and relax your shoulders. Breath into your belly - in through the nose for two seconds, hold and release for two seconds. You should feel your stomach expand and your chest should stay still. Read more exercises here. 
  2. Try a 5 minute mediation: Apps like Headspace and Calm are great. But there's also plenty on YouTube. Try this on your headset now. 
  3. Get moving: repeat after me: nothing is so urgent you can't leave your desk for 5-10 minutes. Go for a brisk walk to get fresh air and to clear your head. 
  4. Focus: move your phone to out of arms' reach and switch to flight mode but set an alarm for 20 minutes time, close Teams and set emails to "Work Offline" and chose one task you know you can do in under 20 minutes to focus on. The satisfaction of completing one thing off your to-do list will relieve anxiety. 
  5. Switch the coffee for green or chamomile tea: get up from your desk and go to the kitchen to make a green tea. The break from your laptop will help, along with the ancient anxiety remedy of tea. Other foods that are scientifically proven to reduce anxiety include turkey, nuts, spinach, fruits, fish, yogurt, turmeric, eggs and (yay!) dark chocolate. 

RKThanks for reading. I'm Rachel Kilmartin - CloserStill Media's Senior Communications Manager (and a proud Mental Health First Aider). If you have any ideas for training, communications or other ways you'd like to support your colleagues (mental health or otherwise), do get in contact with me at r.kilmartin@closerstillmedia.com

*Statistic from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/mental-health-statistics/anxiety-statistics