Recognising Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13 to 19 May 2024, is not just a PR exercise for us at Procode, prioritising mental health is central to the way we operate.

Last year, our company, now known as the Luxion Group since our April rebrand, was recognised as a Great Place to Work. This accreditation looks at a range of criteria, such as treatment of employees, whether the workplace is physically safe and general wellbeing. In this latter category, the group was recognised among the top 20 super large employers in the UK, the highest ranking of any energy-sector company in the country.

In the survey we carried out as part of the certification, 82% of our employees said they thought it was a great place to work.

Our approach to mental health is a crucial part of this and we work hard with our employees to ensure we support them as best we can.

We asked Darryl Patience, who is a group manager for programmes & projects at the company, about what mental health awareness means to him and why it is important.

Darryl says, “For me mental health awareness means playing my part in helping remove the taboo and stigmas that can be associated with mental health by being open, honest, and friendly. It’s also about being conscious and mindful of my colleagues who I have a duty of care to – whilst ensuring I look after myself, so I can be the best version of myself for my family, friends, and colleagues.”

Particularly since the pandemic, achieving a good work-life balance has been of greater importance for many people in the UK. Yet Darryl says it’s not always possible to do this to prioritise mental wellbeing.

“I try to compartmentalise my life: there’s the person I am at work, at home with family, and individually with passions and hobbies,” he says. “I work hard to give the right amount of time to each of those aspects and try not to bring stress, tiredness, or frustration from one into the other.”

He adds, “I have non-negotiables I do to prioritise my wellbeing – such as physical activity, nutrition goals, having family time and getting my 10k steps in.”

Movement is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Most people recognise that physical activity is good for the mind. A recent report by the week’s organisers, the Mental Health Foundation, showed that 82% of UK adults acknowledge the importance of getting active for mental health and overall wellbeing. Our busy lives make it hard to do that. According to the World Health Organisation, more than a third of UK adults do not meet the physical activity recommendations they set out. The report found that more than one in five people (22%) say they are too busy to exercise in a typical week.

Darryl recognises how important activity is for him personally.

“Exercise is paramount to my life and I believe physical and mental health are closely linked,” he says.

“Regular exercise challenges me and gives me energy, resilience, patience, focus, and mental clarity. I can think of hundreds of times when my mind has produced every excuse not to exercise, but I can honestly say I push through and exercise despite those feelings – and I’ve never once regretted it after.”

The Mental Health Foundation report reveals that one barrier to doing more exercise is the good old British weather – with 31% of respondents saying it had stopped them getting active.

Darryl is positive though as summer approaches. He says, “With the lighter evenings and the weather changing for the better (hopefully); I want to increase my outside exposure. I’m fortunate to live near a beach, so I’m going to prioritise my steps, getting outside with my family, and enjoying the surroundings outside of my usual exercise. Plus, setting goals and gamifying them motivates and drives me – so I’ll set myself a target for the week and go for it.”

While this week is important, we know that looking after our mental health is a year-round thing. Later this year, some of our sister group’s senior team are participating in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. They will be taking on the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), covering 24 miles in just under 12 hours, to help raise money for the mental health charity Mind.

Recognising that everyone, both our employees and customers, is different and come from all walks of life, we make this central to our employment processes. We champion diversity, inspire an inclusive culture, and enable an environment where everyone can be their authentic self, regardless of the state of their mental health.