Spotlight on Priya Munogee: Mental Health First Aider

Continuing our blog series on Mental Health First Aiders, we spoke to Junior Conservatoire Administrator Priya Munogee about her motivations for taking on this important role in the conservatoire.

What’s your role within RCS?

I work within the Junior Conservatoire Music team as an administrator with a focus on Music Centres and Satellite Centres.

And where are you right now? How are you finding home working?

I’m currently working from the spare room in my flat. I feel really grateful to be able to do my job from home and I think there’s a certain comfort in home working, but there are also days when I find it challenging.

I miss my commute, my colleagues and being in the city centre. With home working, it can feel like the majority of my week is structured around work so it’s important to find a good balance.

How long have you been a Mental Health First Aider and what initially interested you to the position? Did you need to undertake additional training?

I first did my Scottish Mental Health First Aid training in September 2017 and I’m currently undertaking the Mental Health Champions Foundation course with Place2Be. I feel confident in using the tools this training has given me to help others.

Tell us about being a Mental Health First Aider. What does it entail?

I think it’s about helping to create an environment where people feel they can comfortably share what’s on their mind. I really got a lot out of the training and it has helped me to be more present in conversations and made me a better active listener, which has generally helped my communication skills.

I’ve benefited from being able to apply that to both my professional and personal life which means others benefit from it too.

How often do people reach out to speak to you? Does it need to work related?

I haven’t had anyone reach out to me in the capacity of Mental Health First Aider yet, but a lot of daily conversations in and outside of work start with a general wellbeing check in, which might be as simple as, “how are you doing today?”

I don’t know if many people within RCS are aware that they can contact Mental Health First Aiders so it’s good to share details of the service, and that we can be contacted for an informal chat whenever required.

It’s not always easy reaching out to discuss mental health. What can we expect to happen if we contacted you or one of the other Mental Health First Aiders?

You can feel assured that the Mental Health First Aider on the other end of the phone or screen is listening. It’s not about judgement or offering solutions, it’s about giving someone the space and opportunity to share how they’re feeling, but it can also just be a general chat!

During the pandemic it’s become more important than ever to look after our mental health. Do you have any tips or advice you can share to help us through this lockdown?

For me personally, there are days when I might cross a lot of things off of my to-do list in work, do yoga at lunch, cook a new recipe for dinner, but then there are days where my motivation and output is low. I try to set one goal for myself each day, which might be getting outside for a walk in the morning, afternoon or evening to break up the day and change the scenery. I also try to minimise my screen time while I’m not working and read or listen to music. I find exercise and yoga to be really beneficial to my mental health. That being said, I try not to give myself a hard time on the days where I don’t have the energy. I think it’s important to remember that we are living in a pandemic, so be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself.

More information on Mental Health First Aiders and how to contact them is available on the staff portal and on the Wellbeing@Home page. You can also access Togetherall at any time of day or night, all year round.

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