Yoyo chief’s first aid course to help with mental health issues

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To coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10, Yoyo’s Managing Director, Jenny Kitchen, told the Times: “One in four people suffer from mental health issues every single year, and in our sector this figure is even higher.”

Research has shown that 92 per cent of people in agencies have suffered with poor mental wellbeing, compared to 62 per cent of the wider population.

“We have three internal teams that run activities for the whole studio,” said Jenny.

“These include mindfulness, yoga, sports days, massages, creating our own allotment, marathon walks, and pretty much anything that keeps us all looking after ourselves and each other.”

However, they decided to go further in order
to ensure that staff had the right skills to take action when there was an immediate mental health issue.

Jenny and another colleague signed up to take part in a two-day mental health first aid course offered by the local charity West Kent Mind.

“As MD, I talk to every single person in the agency regularly, and given the importance of the issue we wanted to show that we were taking this seriously and we were committed to improving the support we offer,” she said.

She added: “In all honesty, it was far more intense and emotionally challenging than either of us anticipated. The course was hugely eye-opening.”

Among the practices they learned were:

1) Don’t dismiss your gut feeling about a colleague’s wellbeing; people are very good at hiding their issues, but that doesn’t mean it’s not having a huge impact on their life.

2) Learn to be vigilant, don’t wait for them to come to you or you will likely be too late (the course gave them the confidence to approach colleagues).

3) Don’t be afraid of mentioning suicide, it makes them assess and contextualise their situation and gives them the opportunity to be honest about their own thoughts.

4) Don’t feel like you have to solve the problem; be reassuring, listen, let them know recovery is always possible, and lead them to get help from a professional.

Jenny said: “The course was some of the best training that I have done. We’ve already put some of the techniques into practice and seen the direct impact this has had for our employees.

“We’re looking at providing all staff with mental health awareness training.

“To any business leaders that are thinking about or wanting to take part in mental health training, just do it.

“It’s hugely valuable at work and outside. You’ll come away from it with a new perspective, understanding and empathy.

“This is so incredibly important for the employees that are trusting you on a daily basis to keep them safe and happy at work.”

To sign up for a course, visit

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