Advocacy Focus talks to 2BR about ‘normalising’ mental health discussions 2BR were impressed by our event on Thursday 2nd February as part of Time to Talk Day, a nation-wide push to get people talking more openly about mental heath for one day. Justine Hodgkinson, CEO of Advocacy Focus, said: “Mental health is particularly important at Advocacy Focus because in order for our Advocates to carry out the challenging work that they do in care homes, prisons and mental health support settings, they need to be the best version of themselves. Advocacy is an empathetic and demanding line of work, so it is important that there is a support network in place for us all look out for each other as a team and deliver the best possible service for our clients. We’re proud of our pledge and commitment to Time to Change, not just on special event days like this but on each and every day.” Our radio news feature asks the question, ‘Would you tell your boss about your mental health problem?’ And certainly the answer at Advocacy Focus is ‘Yes!’ where an open and honest culture is encouraged and mental health and wellbeing is nurtured. There are six Time to Change Champions within the organisation who are experienced dealing with mental health issues and who support the wider team in various ways. At Advocacy Focus, we want people to speak out if they’re struggling, so that we can support them. Justine tells 2BR: “We all have these calamities that happen before we even get to work,. “It’s about having a safe space for somebody to say ‘I’m having a bad day, I need to talk.’ “People will say I’ve got a cold, flu, I want to stay in bed today, rather than say to somebody that I’m in a bad place. “What we’re hoping, with all that we’re doing to break down those barriers, is that people will be more open. “Then what we can do is talk to them, identify any help that’s out there for them, we can signpost them on. “If someone’s broken their leg they will have a cast on it, if someone has got a bad neck you can see by the way they hold themselves there is obviously something wrong with them “But when it comes to mental health problems, whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression, it might just be that you’re so up and down you don’t know how to deal with it.” Support within the Advocacy Focus team includes a buddy support system for new employees, weekly ‘something to make you smile’ emails, access to an in-house psychologist, and a signposting service to specialist services. Or it could be as simple as a cup of tea to provide re-assurance after a hard day.