Supporting staff mental health in the voluntary sector
“People often feel like they can’t talk about their own issues because we’re supposed to be helping other people.”
In the voluntary sector, you’re often focused on your organisation’s mission, the people you’re trying to help or the change you’re working to bring about. Your own and your staff’s wellbeing can easily feel like a lower priority. But more and more organisations are realising that supporting others just isn’t sustainable if you aren’t supporting yourselves and your colleagues. We asked Michelle Lloyd, Office Manager at Dementia UK, to share what’s been helpful for them, and to choose some key resources and tools that they’d recommend to others in the third sector.
“I think most people who come to work in the charity sector are people who want to do good; to give something back. So there can be a reluctance to admit that perhaps you’re not doing so great yourself. But just because you’re in a charity helping this cause or that, it doesn’t mean you won’t have your own issues, including in the workplace. The pressures are the same: people have personal lives, relationship issues, childcare issues…”
And, depending on your charity’s focus, the work can bring particular subjects and experiences to the fore for colleagues working with the public. “Our Supporter Care team take phone calls every day, sometimes from people who are distressed or need help. And our Fundraising team can be out at events dealing with people who are running in memory of someone, and need a bit of extra support on the day.” And all of this is happening in an environment where people feel more scrutinised than ever to make sure their time, money and energies are being spent in exactly the right way.
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