I am a Mental Health advocate and Mental Wellness Coach. I believe everyone deserves good mental health and I am offering a unique preventative model to help my clients remain mentally strong for life.
My social enterprise, The Awareness Key, trains people, from kids to corporates, to help prevent mental health issues and never has this been so important as now due to the pandemic.
You may have heard of mental health for first aid (MHFA) which, when required is a service when people have already been impacted and are not able to cope with life‘s curve balls. I am passionate about helping people BEFORE a mental health challenge starts by making strengthening mental health as normal as strengthening one’s body in the gym.
Learning from both adverse personal circumstances as a child and, my careers to date I have developed a unique and highly successful method to help individuals become mentally stronger (anxiety, confidence, resilience, managing transition etc) so that they won’t actually need the help of MHFA qualified staff.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I definitely didn’t sit down to plan my career!
Working in the high pressured hospitality industry was a fantastic experience but I continuously felt frustrated that I wasn’t helping people and making an impact in a positive way on their lives.
Combining that experience and other careers to date has resulted in a fantastic business model with winning techniques for each person, as an individual, to Strengthen Their Mental Health. These transformational tools are unique – combining sports, animals and nature at my spectacular Outdoor Centre setting in the South Downs National Park or, at a clients venue.
Have you faced many challenges along the way?
So I would call perception and attitudes towards mental health as my main challenge and I really want to “bang the drum” about the importance of becoming mentally strong. Can you imagine all the gym memberships that get taken up at the start of each year… If the same amount of people committed to their mental health “fitness“ how much we could reduce the unnecessarily high numbers of people struggling with mental health in this country and enable them to live their best lives. We would also in turn be protecting the NHS.
If employees admit to an employer that they are taking a mental health day off it is still frowned upon and not accepted in the same way as taking a day off for a physical illness.
Other challenges are the weather!! We had a fabulous stable block which got totally battered by the storms last winter and the roof flew off.
Our amazing animals that we work with must be looked after each day, no matter what the weather is like or, how busy we are to make sure that they are also fit and well for their work.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
To date my biggest achievement has been the transformational change made in people’s lives once they have worked with our methods which in turn allows people to live their best life. This is so important to me as I left previous jobs to put back into society and every time I hear a success story I get goosebumps and so so much job satisfaction. I quite literally feel on cloud nine!
For example a 14 year old girl who was just started to be bullied at school attended one of our programmes. We took her though a series of activities which resulted in her realising she was a ‘bigger and stronger person than she ever thought she was’. Several members of her family have since attended the programme having seen the success with her case and this means our work is having an even wider impact.
Another example: recently two counsellors and a life coach who came, said that the skills learnt with the Awareness Key are essential as people are able to manage their lives in a much stronger way mentally.
We give people tools and techniques in an experiential way so that they can recall and reuse them as and when required throughout life. By being experiential, our attendees are not ticking a box with an online course which only 22% is retained on completion, and less as time goes on, people are learning quite literally in the field!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
The adversity that I experienced in my childhood, from both family and school, has set me in good stead to be able to develop a unique skill set to help others. These skills can then be recalled and reused in everyday life.
Whilst I believe I have always had the ability to understand people and be able to get the best out of them I can do this even more due to the life experiences I have had.
Everybody deserves good mental health but what will work for one person will not necessarily work for another and I am able to recognise that through both personal experience and career experiences to date.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are use someone’s mentee?
I strongly recommend mentoring, whilst I was working in hospitality I did mentor and it opens up your eyes to a new way of thinking and seeing business.
The strengthening mental health sessions, seminars and training course are all run with a similar ethos.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender equality, what would it be?
Educating young people, they are the future. Teach them not to be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. Think big from a young age.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
There are still positives found in all challenges and adversity. Make sure you enjoy each moment and stay present in every moment. If you can learn to do this you are able to get the best out of whatever situation you find yourself in.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is to lobby the government to make it mandatory to train everyone in the skills to PREVENT mental health problems.
Sadly we have had our first application turned down but that is not going to stop me!
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