This week marks the start of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for this year is 'Kindness'. In our regular series, Five Minutes with, we're catching up with our Mental Health First Aiders from across dentsu to hear how they're adjusting to the life working from home and their hints and tips on how to stay mentally healthy in the current climate.

Katrina Ward, Associate Director at Carat shares her thoughts on why it's important to have a mentally healthy workplace and the need for Kindness.

As a Mental Health First Aider, why do you think it’s so important to have a mentally healthy workplace?

If we think that for the majority of us one third of our lives is spent at work – that’s potentially 90,000 hours over our lifetime – that is a long time to spend in an environment that is not mentally healthy! By ensuring that we are working in a mentally healthy environment this will lead to so many positives for both employer and employee – positivity, loyalty, higher levels of engagement, innovation and productivity.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Kindness; why is it so important to check in with each other now more than ever?

I don’t know about anyone else but when I am struggling or having a hard time, helping and being kind to others also helps me to feel better.  I’m not sure if it is because I am taking the focus off myself and not overthinking about whatever has made me anxious or just because I genuinely care about others and want to help people feel better whenever I can.  At this time it is particularly important to be kind to others and just to check in when you can to see how people are doing – this simple act can be the difference in that persons day.  We are all having highs and lows through this time and just knowing we are not alone makes such a difference.

If you could give one tip to someone who is finding it hard to adjust through current changes, what would this be?

I think the biggest tip I could give is to keep up some kind of routine where you can.  Just simply carrying on ‘as normal’ in terms of your work routine provides a focus and can keep you out of your own head.  I would also recommend that as part of that routine you include a period where you get outside to get some fresh air – this doesn’t need to be a serious run or bike ride just a simple walk and being outside makes the world of difference – it certainly does to me.  I think most people would agree that we didn’t appreciate the choice of being outside until it was restricted!