By Teamspirit on Wednesday, 15 May 2019
Mental health and wellbeing are rightly at the top of many company agendas these days. One of the main challenges in businesses is normalising the conversation in the workplace. Here at Teamspirit we are striving to remove any stigmas around mental health and promote a healthy environment in the office. We now have multiple qualified mental health first aiders and mental health champions. I volunteered to be trained as one of the mental health first aiders as I have a passion for this area because of what I do outside Teamspirit. I’m a Director of a not for profit organisation www.horserenity.co.uk, and in Mental Health Awareness Week I thought it might be interesting to talk about what we do there, and the things I think that businesses can take from the programme.
At Horserenity we spend time helping people who are struggling with life. We create a safe environment for them to spend time with horses. Why horses? Well these beautiful animals are non-judgmental and will listen to a heartbeat from 4 feet away, they read from the inside out and work to bring calm and understanding.
Horses will always reflect back to us where our outer self and our inner self are not in alignment, allowing us to develop an awareness of the areas causing inner conflict. Our happiness depends on successful and fulfilling relationships and horses teach us the importance of self-awareness, authenticity and cooperation in handling the relationships in our lives.
Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) is the programme we run in which horses and humans work together as guides and facilitators to help people enhance their life skills, improve emotional fitness and increase self-awareness. At Horserenity we use EFL with children who have been excluded from their educational setting or people who are experiencing emotional trauma, separation issues and anxiety. We work with young adults who suffer from low self-esteem and confidence and have disengaged with life; and adults suffering PTSD, or with learning and communication issues.
That might sound far removed from the issues that people experience in the workplace. But the reality is that many of peoples struggles stem from any number of different issues. We at Teamspirit always get a boost from the visits we have from team members’ dogs, and while my personal dream would be to make bringing animals into the workplace a norm, in the meantime, non-animal friendly workplaces can genuinely benefit from visits from pets, or even sharing pictures or videos of cute animals. These have been shown to lift moods and help us build resilience to stress in the long run.
As we go through Mental Health Awareness week we need to think of new ways to get people talking and find more creative ways of helping colleagues engage with the issues. It can’t be just a poster on the wall. There has to be real change in the way people view and talk about mental health.