Meet Jane: An RI Mental Health Ally

In 2019, we kicked off our training programme in Mental Health Education and personal development. Our Islanders can now speak in confidence to a non-judgmental kind ear who can listen and signpost with advice that will support their mental health and wellbeing. With 25 mental health allies trained as of 2023, they have a huge range of diversity in terms of their lived experiences – we grabbed just one, Jane, for a chat on her journey into training for the role and why it's so important to us at RI HQ.

In my own personal life, I have certainly experienced some difficult periods. I feel strongly about shaping the future and supporting anyone who may need help, or just a friendly, listening ear. I’ve had times when my own mental health has been challenging to manage. The most successful treatment I had and a valuable lesson I learned during one of those periods was to speak up about the issues that were affecting me. Being an ally reminds me to practice self-care and look for ways to try to reflect on what is within my control to change when things start to get on top of me. Hopefully, I can then in turn be a better support to others.

As an Islander, if anyone feels they need to reach out they can do in several ways, and always in total confidence without judgement. As allies, we see ourselves as being able to listen and signpost to the best solutions to help officially. We have amazing line managers who fully support the work we do, and it is always possible to make the time to help.

Additionally, we have the chance to be involved in other specialist areas of the role. In the last couple of years, I have been fortunate to have some amazing training that has equipped me better with supporting people who may be affected by domestic abuse. I’ve found myself opening up about things I never dreamed I would, so you may have heard my dulcet tones on a podcast discussing menopause and am one of the allies that belongs to the ‘Take a Pause,’ our own menopause support group. Honestly, that makes me very proud.

We have a fabulous team, I’ve met people within the ally community that I consider to be really great work colleagues, and I’ve loved getting to know more about their role as an Islander too. It really is a super Initiative to be part of and every day I feel proud when I see my purple heart signature.

For anyone who thinks it might be time to talk, I would encourage you to press ‘send’.