As the Product Owner for the Testing Service at FDM, I have always had a good understanding of the importance of mental health and personal wellbeing, as it is a very large part of my role. I provide support to hundreds of software testing consultants deployed across a variety of FDM client sites. This support varies from technical support to career guidance, training and professional development, as well as personal wellbeing. Therefore, being knowledgeable on the subjects of mental health and personal wellbeing enables me to provide effective support in those areas.
An opportunity to acquire further knowledge on those subjects came around recently at the FDM sponsored Ministry of Testing Meetup in Leeds. The main topic of the event was delivered by a Senior Tester from the BBC and covered mental health in the workplace. A number of other FDMers and I jumped at this opportunity to find out more.
I learnt a great deal from the talk, as it covered a wide range of topics and went into detail on some things I had never considered before. The biggest learning points for me were:
- Employers are beginning to recognise the importance of mental health and are putting support measures in place, such as the rolling out of Employee Assistance Programmes and training members of staff to become qualified Mental Health First Aiders.
- When supporting somebody, you must follow their lead and help them deal with the current issue they are experiencing at that very moment, rather than the longer-term issue.
I also learnt a few phrases you can say, or things you can do, when offering support:
- Express sympathy about them feeling that way
- Tell them you are glad they came to you, and ask what you can do to help
- Aim to empower the person to solve their problems
- Offer to introduce the person to someone trained who can support them properly
- Make the dialogue interactive
Learning more about mental health and personal wellbeing is something I encourage everyone to do. A good starting point is to check out out the mental health charity Mind, which offers great advice.
FDM has recently launched a wellbeing initiative with a 24-hour confidential support line and over 30 trained mental health first aiders throughout the UK, who are on hand to offer first stage assistance when needed.