In conversation with Claire Allman, Mental Health First Aider on Mental Health Day 2022
In recognition of Mental Health Day, we talk to Claire Allman about her role as a Mental Health First Aider and why this matters in the workplace.
Q: Can you tell us about your current role and when you joined Baxter?
Claire: I joined Hillrom over 5 years ago and currently work as HR Business Partner for the Care Solutions team. I transitioned to Baxter under the acquisition at the end of 2021.
Q: In addition to your role as HR Business Partner, you are also a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA). Why did you sign up and what training did you get?
Claire: For me, it was a no brainer. Mental Health is complicated, misunderstood and different for everyone. 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week in England. By being a MHFA, it enables me to support colleagues, friends, and family to get the right help and be a supportive, friendly face along the way. At the end of 2020, I completed a 2-day virtual course run by Mental Health England along with several other colleagues and Managers.
Q: How would you describe the role of a MHFA to people?
Claire: We are like normal first aiders that any business might have, but we are focused on mental health. As a MHFA, our role is to act as a point of contact for someone who is experiencing mental health issues or any kind of emotional distress. We are by no means qualified therapists, but we can offer initial help and signpost the appropriate supports that are available.
Claire: I think the starting point is to continue educating and raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing. Both are different things and if as a business we want to protect and promote, we need to know how and to understand it right? I encourage an environment where people feel they can talk, there is still a lot of judgement and stigma out there. Our group of Mental Health First Aiders play a key role at Baxter in promoting and protecting mental health at work.
Q: What do you do to look after your own mental health and what advice would you give to others?
Claire: Most importantly it’s about consciously giving yourself the time to look after it. We probably all find ourselves in situations where we are so engrossed in work, we realise we haven’t left the desk for hours. I will always try to protect lunch time in my calendar and try to be away from the computer. Since Covid-19, I mostly work at home but most recently I am consciously trying to go into the office once a week. I didn’t realise how important this was for me. Living by myself, I’ve become more aware that face to face interactions and socialising are so important. My miniature dachshund Ronnie also makes sure I get out the house for exercise and fresh air! Being a lock down puppy, he has hugely helped my mental health.