Mental Health Awareness Week

Equality - 18 May 2020

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These past few weeks have been a challenging time for us all, both physically and mentally. Work life balance has become a blur and the days are rolling into one. Do we even know what month it is? Where did April go? 

During Mental health awareness week, I’ve been reflecting on the measures we’ve taken in GMB, at different levels to support our members around mental health. 



As a Branch Secretary and Rep, being active in my union and supporting members has been especially important during this time. Many members are feeling uncertain about their jobs, pay and what the future holds for them. Supporting my branch officers and their well-being has also been key. I have made sure I’ve regular contact with them, discussed how they are managing both work, lockdown and the high level of calls and support they have been dealing with. Small touches like  sending them a small thank you card, just to let them know that they are appreciated and that they have my support can go a long way too. 


Wider membership 

Communication has always been key in supporting our members wherever they work but during lock down, we have had to think as a branch and as a Regional Equality Forum, about how to adapt to our members needs when communicating, beyond your average an emails. 

I think it has probably tested some of our skills and gained us new ones, especially around technology and new ways of staying in touch. 

One of the biggest issue’s our members have reported has been around mental health, especially if you are like me and thrive on human contact and being around people. Social isolation is hitting us all hard.  

With this in mind and inspired by quizzes and events online, the Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Regional Equality Forum decided to find a way to reach out to members who might be feeling particularly  isolated or lonely,  by setting  up a GMB Well-Being Drop In session every Monday online. This is a fab place to come and chat, listen and see people, other than the four walls we all have been staring at for so long! This has been received really well by members, especially from those that are social distancing alone. 

As the Regional Equality Forum, we recognise that we are not mental health professionals, but that as reps we can provide a bit of time, space to talk and a few ears to listen. Sometimes that is all people need.  


Regional Equality Forum 

We have embraced video conferencing further and our Regional Equality Forum held our first online full meeting on Monday 4th May. This could make a big difference in making our meetings easier to attend, even in life after lockdown, as members that would not normally be able to attend because of distance, transport, or work shifts, can now attend with the click of a button. Once we return to ‘normality’ we will still have the video conferencing option for attendance and even better - it reduces our carbon foot print! Promoting the green agenda within our union. 


Mental Health Awareness Week  

As a Regional Equality Forum, we have been preparing for Mental Health Awareness Week (18th- 22nd May) and are planning a range of other activities to maintain communication and support with members. There will be online videos on Meditation, the use of Essential Oils to aid anxiety and depression,  Zoom meetings around Well-Being and Exercise and much, much more. Watch this space! I am excited at how innovative and enthusiastic our forum members have been with this. 

My main goal is to support all our members through this time, to ensure we all make it safely through to the other side and if we can gain a few more members in the meantime, even better! 


If you would like to join us online for a chat or for more information on our mental health week activities, please drop me an email cindy.gavin@gmbactivist.org.uk We would love to see you there. Grab a cuppa, pull up a chair and come and chat. 

Take care, solidarity to all my sisters and brothers out there. You all are amazing! 

Stay safe, stay at home, save our NHS! 


Cindy Gavin

Regional Equality Forum Secretary and Leeds X20 Branch Secretary

'We recognise that we are not mental health professionals, but that as reps we can provide a bit of time, space to talk and a few ears to listen. Sometimes that is all people need.'  


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