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King’s Lynn business owners and employees talk about mental health awareness week and wellbeing in the workplace





Anxiety is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday. Reporter Jenny Beake has been speaking to Lynn business owners and employees about their experiences...

For many of us, professionally or personally, we face stresses and strains that contribute to the state of our mental health.

Worrying about paying our bills, work pressure, relationship complexities, family issues and the cost of living can all cause our anxiety to increase.

I wanted to focus on employers and their employees in Lynn and what they understand about mental health awareness.

LIsa and Neil Staples are owners at the Tipsy Teapot in Lynn
LIsa and Neil Staples are owners at the Tipsy Teapot in Lynn

Business owners and their staff were happy to chat and gave an insight into how important it is to talk openly about our mental health, particularly in the workplace, without fear or shame.

They have told us how they approach the issues of mental health in the workplace, giving insights into the ways that employers and employees can contribute towards positive wellbeing at work.

At the Tipsy Teapot in the High Street , the most important element in supporting mental health to Lisa and Neil Staples, owners at the popular venue, was to ask their employees a simple question.

LtoR: Clare Walker, manager, Jasmine Harness, staff member with owners Lisa and Neil Staples at the round dining table in the Tipsy Teapot
LtoR: Clare Walker, manager, Jasmine Harness, staff member with owners Lisa and Neil Staples at the round dining table in the Tipsy Teapot

‘Are you alright?’

But equally, they said it is important to listen to the answer.

Lisa said: “As an employer, if someone comes in and is not on their game or not feeling great mentally, it may be a personal issue, so instead of having a go at them we want to hear about it.

“It is about mutual respect that there is an understanding that the job needs to get done but treating people as human.”

Jasmine Harness at the Tipsy Teapot
Jasmine Harness at the Tipsy Teapot

Neil said: “I would like to think we become a role model, as approachable and setting an example as we have a support system and we are a team.”

One of their well-loved employees has a diagnosis of ADHD and Lisa said: “Our employee is creative, fun and disorganised so we created check sheets so instead of a million things to think about he can go to his sheet.

“We wanted to see how we could make it better and this is something we provided.

“If he can’t get all his thoughts together he can go to the simple check sheet.

“Change the things you can change and accept the things you can’t.

“There is lots of outside pressure at the minute with future and financial worries.

“We are lucky that we are okay, touch wood, but nobody’s immune.

“Mental health has a knock on effect as it is all related.

“If you have a happy team who are invested in your business they show it to our customers.

“We invest in our team and not just in the business.”

Neil added: “As managers we recognised that.

“We always ask are you alright ?

“I had counselling for a year and a half and I am not embarrassed about it.

“Just talk and speak and you will feel better getting it off your chest.

“You can’t look at someone and pigeon hole them as they could have mental health issues.

“We look at what is behind the person.

“You can’t move forward if you keep looking back.”

Another member of Lisa and Neil’s staff at the Tipsy Teapot, Jasmine Harness, faced some mental health struggles, and here she describes that talking about it openly means she has gained vital support from her employers Lisa and Neil.

Jasmine Harness works at the Tipsy Teapot and talked to reporter Jenny Beake about mental health in the workplace
Jasmine Harness works at the Tipsy Teapot and talked to reporter Jenny Beake about mental health in the workplace

Jas said : “I travel 30 minutes to get here and I’d rather do that for a good job than work closer to home.

“I first started here a few weeks after a traumatic event and I let Lisa and Neil know in case I had any moments.

“When I started I didn’t really have any friends, no confidence, really insecure and questioned everything and working here is really freeing.

“I can just be myself and I have slowly opened up more.

“I was in a coercive and abusive relationship, he is now in prison and there is a restraining order, and after that I had no option but to get up and work as I’d lost money.

“I don’t think I would have the confidence to be myself, to just enjoy people, and work in hospitality, without this job.

“We even come here on our days off and we sit at the round dining table with a cup of tea and have a chat.

“Also our manager Clare and her husband Scott have helped me with things.

Lisa and Neil listen and are on our level and I can talk to them about anything.”

The team at GH Hair Design
The team at GH Hair Design

At GH Hair Design, owner Gemma explains how her own mental health experiences influence the running of her business.

Gemma said: “Mental health is at the core of what we do.

“It affects everything you do at work or home and how your mental health is, is how you deliver.

“Out team helps to deliver exceptional care and it all starts with yourself.

Customers enjoy some peace and quiet in the relaxation lounge
Customers enjoy some peace and quiet in the relaxation lounge

“Whether you are a business person or a mum, if you are not happy yourself it shows.

“If a business owner is taking care of their team then their staff care for the customers.

“I was diagnosed with ME, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome and I could see my clients going down the same road, rushing around.

“ So here we encourage our clients to use our relaxation lounge which enables them to switch off for ten minutes.

“Anxiety comes from when issues haven’t been dealt with and stress levels are the body’s way of telling you slow down and stop.

“With my team members we try to remove stress before it gets to the anxiety point.

“We listen early so that we can see the signs and equally, with our clients, if we see they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, we accommodate them in a separate room and ask them how they are feeling.

“When I was diagnosed with ME I was told I had to give up my job.

“If I didn’t work I would be depressed but my body wasn’t allowing me to keep going.

“I researched holistic therapies to help prevent burn out and put a positive spin on it.

“Sometimes all you need is some peace and quiet. “

Gareth Ellison, owner of Resist Vegan Kitchen, promotes seeing a therapist to help with mental health
Gareth Ellison, owner of Resist Vegan Kitchen, promotes seeing a therapist to help with mental health

Gareth Ellison is the owner of Resist Vegan Kitchen and though he runs a small team of staff he is keen to promote talking about mental health in the workplace.

He shares in this video that he sees a therapist and talks about his journey.

Gareth said: “I was diagnosed with ADHD and we are such a small place here no-one can hide from talking about mental health.

“Talking about things with a therapist means you come to your own realisations.

“Speaking to someone is the hardest thing you can do but I don’t believe you will start to feel better through isolation.

“Saying it’s not that bad to someone is toxic positivity but here we have a lovely community with our customers and people like Bill.

Resist Vegan Kitchen on St James Street in Lynn
Resist Vegan Kitchen on St James Street in Lynn

“There is still kind of shame around therapy and I think a therapist is great.

“A lot of people spend time on Instagram and stuff like that looking at influencers and stuff but most of them are narcissistic, toxic and just doing it for the likes.

“We do promote mental health a lot on our social media, sometimes more than vegan food to be honest with you. “

Bill Gaylor, left, with Gareth Ellison and the Primal Burger
Bill Gaylor, left, with Gareth Ellison and the Primal Burger

Jay Harrison is a mental health campaigner from Lynn, who performed 24 gigs in 24 hours to raise funds.

Jay said: “My journey started a decade ago when my friend John Brindle decided he couldn’t carry on and took his life.

“When I heard the news of John Seymour it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I wanted to do something about mental health in a public forum.

Jay Harrison is a fundraiser for mental health charities
Jay Harrison is a fundraiser for mental health charities

“There is still a stigma attached to suicide and depression one in two people will have an episode of ill mental health in their lifetime and that figure is astounding.

“Millions of days are lost in the workplace to ill mental health and so we need people to get talking.

“Mental health is indiscriminate and doesn’t look the same for everyone.

“Look at Ed Sheeran or Lewis Capaldi who have both been talking about their mental health.

“Talking about it is the cure and people need to understand that it is something we all face.”

For mental health support and drop in centres in Lynn:

The Steam House Café on the High Street has an overall focus on building a community and improving mental health.

Contact steamkl@accessct.org or call 01553 401831

Norfolk and Waveney MIND has a REST hub drop in centre and can be contacted at norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk

Lynn News’ charity of the year 8:56 Foundation support men’s mental health issues and can be contacted via their website.

The Steam House Café is on the High Street in Lynn
The Steam House Café is on the High Street in Lynn

Do you have a story to share with Lynn News? Email newsdesk@lynnnews.co.uk



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