CELEBRATING its 30th anniversary, Menter a Busnes is taking a proactive approach to mental health awareness both in-house and in the wider business community.
The independent company, which has offices throughout Wales, employs 120 staff who offer a wide range of business support and skills development to small, medium and large enterprises as well as start-up businesses.
Each year the Menter a Busnes team chooses a charity to support, and for the company’s anniversary year is focussing attention on the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
Says Menter a Busnes director, Elen Llwyd Williams, “The importance of mental health and wellbeing are becoming increasingly recognised in the workplace.
According to the mental health campaign, Time to Change Wales*, research by Mind (2018) reveals that of 44,000 employees surveyed, nearly half (48%) say they have experienced a mental health problem in their current job.
“Menter a Busnes will be working with local branches of the mental health charity Mind Cymru to raise awareness and share experiences on mental health and activities that support wellbeing.
“We will be kicking off our anniversary year fundraising activities to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13-19).
We have already begun training staff about metal health and wellbeing in the workplace, and we will be equipping them with the information and tools to support and signpost clients who may show signs of mental distress.”
Says Menter a Busnes chief executive, Alun Jones, “Our staff through an overwhelming majority chose to support Mind this year. There has been increased awareness in the media over the past few years about mental health well-being, and it is equally important through our day to day work to raise awareness about this with the Welsh business community.
At Menter a Busnes staff health and welfare is very important to us, so we hope through our collaboration with Mind that we’ll not only raise some funds, but also through open discussions and training eliminate the stigma around talking about mental illness.”
Menter a Busnes’ efforts to raise awareness and funds have been welcomed by Roger Bone, chief executive of Cardiff Mind.
He says, “Cardiff Mind is delighted and honoured to be one of the four Local Mind Associations chosen to be supported by Menter a Busnes this year.”
“It is particularly pleasing to see that Alun and his team have recognised the importance of all businesses being aware of mental health issues in the workplace and what we can all do to help colleagues to recognise and resolve these.
“Perhaps more even more importantly to create an environment in which we can talk about these matters openly and without fear. In addition to the four Local Mind Associations chosen there are many other members of the Mind family that operate across Wales. Their details can be found on the Mind Website at www.mind.uk/about-us/local-minds and you’ll be able to find out the one operating in your area.”
Mental health and wellbeing are subjects the company has been helping others address too, notably via its Farming Connect programme.
Pembrokeshire farmer, Eurig Evans, is creating a farm where it is not just the livestock who are nurtured and cared for but also young people with a range of disorders and learning difficulties.
Farming requires a variety of skills, including physical and emotional strength, and Eurig, who farms at Llanychaer near Fishguard, is using his experience and empathy to help those who are tested by daily life.
He aims to establish Gwaun Care Farm, where young people with a variety of difficulties may be helped to overcome their challenges through land-based activities.
With a bursary from Farming Connect’s Farm Management Exchange programme, Eurig visited Italy to see the work of the San Patrignano Care Farm – a sector leader in tailored rehabilitation for people with a broad spectrum of difficulties, including mental health issues triggered by addictions.
The visit was an inspiration to Eurig – who is about to embark on a course to become a counsellor – and cemented his belief that pursuing a rural skills programme delivered in the environment of a care farm could help people struggling with issues to regain their confidence within society.
“If there is one thing I took away from my visit to San Patrigano, it’s that it is possible to do anything. If you can turn someone living with heroin addiction around, you can do anything.”
Already involved in helping others, Eurig is a part-time tutor at Coleg Plas Dwbl in Clynderwen – which provides a range of land-based and craft activities to help young people develop their communication, social, work and living skills.
The students spend time on his 200-acre farm where he rears 150 dairy heifers and also has a quarrying business producing decorative Pembrokeshire Blue slate chippings. He recently gave up relief milking and bought a flock of 117 Friesland cross ewes – the milk from which goes to a local cheesemaker.
Says Eurig, “It is a fantastic way to teach the students where our milk is from, I’ve taken them to see cows being milked but now with the sheep they can experience milking on my farm, and also help rear the lambs.”
He adds, “I am also planning to develop woodland activities and green woodworking workshops, incorporating these into other nature-based activities to offer a holistic learning environment.”
Gwaun Care Farm is still in its early stages, but Eurig is determined to help as many people as possible, and also sees the establishment of the Care Farm as his future legacy.
He has been encouraged in his venture through joining a Farming Connect Agrisgôp group, which he credits with giving him the confidence and drive to make his plans a reality.
“I’ve had great support from Farming Connect, and the Agrisgôp group have been brilliant, so encouraging – I cannot thank them enough. I had the idea, but when you share it with seven or eight other people’s opinions too, and it helps you see things in a different light and explore different avenues.”
While not everyone may be inclined to share their thoughts or ideas with others in their immediate community, Eurig suggests they join an Agrisgôp group outside their locality.
There are broader social benefits for group members too, as farming can be a rather solitary life, which can have its own adverse effects on mental health and wellbeing.
He says, “As farmers, we don’t necessarily see anyone in a day. But leaving the farm, even for one hour, is therapy in itself.”