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Mercedes Oliveira

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Oakleaf and Mental Health in the Workplace
May 16, 2019

Did you know that 1 in 6 people will experience mental health problems in the workplace?

That means that someone you work with already has, or will develop, a mental health issue.

Just think about that for a moment.

Did you also know that mental health problems are responsible for 91 million working days lost each year?

Those statistics are pretty shocking, but how does that translate into real life? And what happens to people who have suffered mental health issues and need support?

Suzanne and Susie from our Marketing team went to visit Oakleaf Enterprise in Guildford. They are a wonderful charity that provides work related training for those suffering from mental health issues.

They offer training in garden maintenance, upholstery and IT, helping their clients gain new skills, qualifications and work experience.

Alongside these they offer a range of Wellbeing Activities & Courses that cater towards building confidence, physical health and wellbeing, whilst reducing isolation and loneliness. These include yoga, Pilates, art, music, football and Spanish lessons to name but a few.

As well as the fantastic training services, Oakleaf also offers counselling with BACP and BPS registered counsellors to help aid people’s recovery.

Oakleaf is also the base of the Guildford Safe Haven, a drop-in crisis centre offering adults an alternative to A&E when experiencing mental health issues. It’s a safe and supportive environment, open 365 days a year from 6pm – 11pm.

But what struck us the most when we walked round the centre was the positivity and community feel that Oakleaf exudes. To see, first-hand, what a difference a charity like this can make is quite awe-inspiring.

 We spoke to Eli, Oakleaf’s Fundraising and Partnership Executive, who explained how easy it is to become isolated when you have mental health issues.

Even though a lot of progress has been made around mental health, it still carries a certain stigma and the only way to break that down is to talk about it and make it more mainstream.

5 simple things
Eli explained that there are 5 simple things that anyone can do to improve their wellbeing – even if you aren’t currently suffering from mental health issues.

Connect: make a connection with someone. Say hello. Smile. You’ll be surprised at the positive feeling you get back.

Be active: even going for a walk and getting outside can boost dopamine levels.

Take Notice: be present, be mindful. Take the time to notice what’s around you.

Keep Learning: self-development is a confidence boost and increases dopamine, which is an essential part of the brain’s ‘reward system’.

Give: making a contribution to the world around you gives you a purpose. It shows you that you are part of something bigger than yourself.


This mental health awareness week Oakleaf are encouraging everyone to take part in an activity that features one of these 5 points as part of their #1Hour4Oakleaf campaign.


What can I do in my own workplace?
Given the fact that 1 in 6 people will experience a mental health issue in the workplace, being able to spot the signs and offer support is vital.

Two of the team from projectfive have completed the Mental Health First Aid course, which is an internationally recognised training course, delivered by the team at Oakleaf.

It teaches you about the spectrum of mental health issues and how you can approach someone in your company who you feel might be struggling – and most importantly, what to do if they are.

By undertaking this course with Oakleaf the funds are directly supporting their vulnerable clients.


How can I get involved?
If you are interested in the Mental Health First Aid course or knowing more about how you can support Oakleaf in the vital work they do contact for more information, or visit their website at



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