Written on 12 July, 2018

It is estimated that every single year about 16 million people in the UK will experience a mental health issue which can range from the worries we face in our everyday lives, to stress, anxiety and depression, and even more serious life-long problems. Here at Surrey Translation Bureau, we think this is a really important issue, especially in an industry that largely relies on freelancers. Despite the undoubtable perks of working for yourself, there can often be downsides. For some, the nature of our industry may mean living a more solitary lifestyle and maybe even a lack of support for freelancers that in-house employees have access to on a daily basis.

It’s because of these factors that we hosted a fundraising event based on a new initiative from the Mental Health Foundation called ‘Curry and Chaat’. The goal is simple, to encourage informal conversation about mental health over delicious curry! So, during Mental Health Awareness Week (14–20 May 2018) we invited our freelancers to join us in London for curry, drinks and relaxed chatter. Our aim was not only to raise money and awareness, but to connect with our freelancers who are very much part of the STB extended family.

To support mental wellbeing for our in-house staff, the day started with a training session focussed on mindfulness, the research behind it and practical exercises to help manage stress and build resilience. However, the focus of the event was getting to know our freelancers in a laid-back atmosphere over drinks and delicious Thai curry. At the event, freelancers and STB staff were encouraged to think about and write down what negatively and positively affects their own mental health. The contributions were then anonymously shared on social media afterwards. It was a great exercise to get people thinking about what we can do to encourage mental wellbeing.

Through our mindfulness training session and discussions with freelancers, we came up with some top tips to stay mentally well and manage stress.

Treat mental health as seriously as you treat your physical health.

Most days our focus lies on physical health – so we stretch during Yoga, run on treadmills and treat our colds with some homemade soup. Often though, we forget about our mental wellbeing even though it’s just as important and needs looking after just the same, and can also have a huge influence on our physical health if it is compromised.

Make sure to step away from your desk

In this deadline driven industry, it can be hard to convince yourself to take a break during the working day. However, recent studies show that taking a break once an hour increases productivity and improves focus. If you’re feeling stressed, take a walk through your local park. Taking a time-out in a green space is proven to be a mood-booster. 

Stop, take a breath, observe, proceed (the STOP method)

This is a mindfulness-based exercise that can help take control of your worried mind when feeling stressed. Stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths. Focus on inhaling and exhaling and observe how you’re feeling. Reflect on any thoughts or emotions. Proceed with a new awareness of what is happening now, rather than getting caught up in a downward stress spiral.

Feeling down? Ask for help.
There’s no shame in asking for help when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, no matter what anyone thinks. We aren’t superhuman and will all need help coping at some point in our lives. It’s important to remember that everyone is different. You may bounce back from a stressful period quickly, while others may feel weighed down for a long time.

We hope to build on these tips through open communication about mental health with our freelancers and colleagues. Together we can help to erase the stigma surrounding mental health.

We are thrilled that our event was so well received amongst in-house staff and freelancers. Around 30 people attended the fundraising event and we raised just over £200 for the Mental Health foundation, a charity that raises awareness and provides people with support during challenging times. Thank you to all of our freelancers who came to the event and generously donated!