Valuing your own health and wellbeing: how your values, or compromising, them impact on both your own and others mental health.

28 September 2021

Next month the 10 October marks International Mental Health day, the following month the volunteer support team will also be exploring supporting volunteers with their mental health, at our volunteer coordinators network meeting. Mental health and wellbeing are closely linked, and thankfully our understanding of the importance of good mental health and wellbeing and the conversations around both are growing; but with so much information it can be difficult to pick out what is meaningful or useful for you to use as a support tool in your specific circumstances; whether at a personal level or supporting staff and volunteers.

Earlier in the summer Jenni-Kate a Therapeutic Coach and Change Worker at JK Changework, delivered a training session for Community First Yorkshire on Workplace Wellbeing. In the session we explored our own values and how identifying and considering how well we are meeting these values impacts on our own wellbeing and then by extension the wellbeing of those around us. Whilst this approach may not work for everyone it is something that could be used with staff and volunteers to frame conversations around wellbeing, and support both them and you to identify what is important to them.

What are values?

We were asked to spend 10 minutes thinking about and writing down our top ten values in relation to our work or volunteering. A value is a rule or something that needs to be in place that we attach importance to. One obvious example for the majority of people who work is earning a salary that allows you to live comfortably. This is not a value that would apply to volunteering, you can expect to find values like making a difference or supporting a cause I feel passionate about more important to a volunteer. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, given the sector we work in, the values around our time and the impact this time can have on our communities was also a common value amongst workers.

As an example here are my ten values, they are not in any particular order but if you do feel strongly or know that a particular value carries extra importance, you could list them in order of importance. This list is not set or final and as I change, my work changes, and the circumstances around me change, the list will change.

  • My work is time-bound, with clear separation of home life and work life
  • I want my work to be worthwhile (organisation I work for)
  • I know I’m making a difference (work I do at a personal level)
  • Being social, meeting and talking to people as part of my work is important to me
  • I like my work to be varied, I get bored easily
  • I need a planned or organised approach to work, not just me but the organisation I work for as well
  • I have the flexibility to work how I want, not just time but methods etc.
  • I have ownership of my work
  • I earn a salary that reflects the work I do
  • I need a dedicated, quiet and light space to work free of clutter

How can I use my values to support wellbeing?

In the second half of the exercise we were encouraged to discuss 3 of our values with a partner, either the most important values or perhaps the ones that we know are not being met at the moment. If you are not meeting one or more of your values, then there will be an impact on your overall wellbeing. Are spending enough; time, energy, effort and attention on those values. If you are not what are three actions, you could take remedy this. What conversations do you need to have, what changes do you need to make?

To be honest on reflection and discussion with my partner I felt ok about the ‘state’ of my values, a few of them are not quite being met at the moment – being social and a space to work. I know why that is and it is due to circumstances, beyond my control. But even just recognising this and acknowledging the impact this can have on my wellbeing helps me to put it into context. It acts as a check when I’m not feeling great about work, I know it is because one of my values are not being met and for me just knowing that and recognising it is helpful.

The last 18 months have been a time of huge change and upheaval, and now reflection for people. I do think that if I had been asked to list my top ten values before the pandemic that my list will have looked different. So as people return to work and volunteering or approach new or blended approaches of working and volunteering now might be a good time to think about what your values are.

Further support and information

JK Changework offer both individual and workforce support with wellbeing, to find out about upcoming events, further information and contact details, please visit their website.

Volunteer co-ordinator network is a network for volunteer co-ordinators and those in a charity with a responsibility for volunteers across North Yorkshire to network and share information, advice, tips and thoughts on all aspects of volunteer management, see here for more information.

The next volunteer coordinators network meeting with take place on Tuesday 23 November at 10am. We will be discussing how to support volunteers with their mental health and will hear from Gemma at Orb how she supports volunteers with a mental health illness. For more information and to book you place visit our dedicated volunteer coordinator network webpage.

We have a number of resources, template and information sheets to support you with all aspects of volunteer management visit the volunteering/people section of our website for more information.

International mental health day is 10 October click here to find out more information and detail of events and activities near you.

If you have any further questions or need support with any aspect of volunteer management, please do get in touch