An interview with Winnie Akyeampong, Mental Health First Aider
2020 certainly put us through our paces, so it’s really no surprise that mental health has worsened by 8.1% as a result of the pandemic. Our entire team has access to LifeWorks and Aviva Health and we have always encouraged anyone at Gousto to speak up if they need help, but, like many other businesses, we recognised that there is always more we can do to help our employees seek help if they need it.
Our Mental Health First Aider initiative has been invaluable to our team. We hope that providing some volunteer employees, like Winnie, with the appropriate training, will encourage our team to speak up if they need to talk.
An interview with Winnie Akyeampong
- How long have you been at Gousto for?
I celebrated my one year anniversary on the 23rd Sept.
- Why did you volunteer to be a Mental Health First Aider?
Keeping a healthy lifestyle has always played a key role in my life. Fitness is part of my life. I know the right food to eat and how to keep my body in shape. However, I realised in 2007 that I did not know how to maintain healthy mental thoughts as I became withdrawn from friends and overworked every single day.
Being a single mother, it is really important to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Fortunately, I was able to recover and turn things around and ever since my recovery I have been interested in learning and understanding all things mental health, which is why I volunteered to be a Mental Health First Aider.
- What are your responsibilities as a Mental Health First Aider?
As a Mental Health First Aider, I am the point of contact for other colleagues who are experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress.
My role is to listen & communicate non-judgmentally and hold supportive conversation guided by the Mental Health First Aider action plan.
I’m there to give support as well as useful information on how the person can get appropriate professional help.
I know how important physical wellbeing can be for mental health and this is part of the wider support I can suggest to those looking for help.
- What are the most important things you learnt during the training to become a Mental Health First Aider?
How to listen and communicate with a person completely without judgement, as well as the five basic steps of when assessing someone, which are:
Approach the person, assess and assist with any crisis
Listen and communicate non-judgementally
Give support and information
Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help
Encourage other supports
- Would you say any of the skills needed for your role in Customer Care have helped you in your role as a Mental Health First Aider?
Definitely. In my role as Brand Ambassador on the Customer Care team, I show empathy, good listening skills and a passion to help people. These are skills that come naturally to me too and ones that are so relevant for the MHFA role.
- If someone is experiencing mental health issues at work, why should they turn to a Mental Health First Aider?
We all have mental health – it moves up and down along a spectrum from good to poor. Considering how much time we all spend at work, it’s natural that our workplace environment affects our wellbeing. We provide a safe space where someone can talk privately if they’re not feeling great.
Whilst it is important to note that we are not counsellors or doctors, we have been trained to provide emotional and practical support.
We are all caring and easy to talk to and no one will be judged. A big benefit is that there’s no need to book time off work to have a supportive conversation.
- Is there anything else you’d like to add about the Mental Health First Aider programme or how Gousto is supporting employees’ mental health at work?
I am so proud to be part of this initiative with Gousto, providing mental first aid to employees. I hope this will kick start an amazing conversation and realisation of how important our mind and mental health is. I’m grateful for this opportunity to be able to undertake this course and help one another.