Special Edition: Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

By Emma Brazil, Senior Service Delivery Manager, Bravura.

Last month, I celebrated a significant personal milestone – I’ve been working at Bravura/MFT for 20 years.

I haven’t always been with Bravura during this time, but I’ve been with the business since MFT became part of Bravura in 2010.

I started out in the business at Fidelity then after a couple of years of travelling and temping I moved to London as a business analyst, first at Schroders and then at Mutual Fund Technologies (MFT). After seven years, I moved into the Information Security team.

This was a great learning curve and helped increase my technical knowledge, but I missed the day-to-day interaction with people. So, after a few years I applied for a role in service delivery, and I have been in the team since then.

As a Senior Service Delivery Manager, I sit in between our technical teams and our clients, helping them get the most out of our software and services and being the first point of contact for any service-related incidents.

Becoming a Mental Health Champion

I’m what some call a ‘people person’. I like to get involved and give back, particularly if it’s something I admire and want to support.

When Bravura launched its bWell initiative in 2021 – shortly after the other Diversity & Inclusiveness (D&I) pillars – I thought it was a hugely important initiative, because, despite the progress that’s been made in normalising discussions around mental health at work, there can still be a stigma and this can create significant barriers for people who need support.

I’ve had my own mental health struggles over the years and know from personal experience that lots of people are concerned about raising similar issues with their line manager. This is why having a confidential resource where people can get support is something I wanted to be a part of because of the enormous value it can bring.  

I found out that Bravura was looking to internally recruit and train a new cohort of Mental Health Champions (MHC) from one of our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA). The business already had over 20 MHFAs and MHCs across its global offices and I’d always been drawn to joining the team but never took it further as I felt I didn’t have the time or enough to give.

My son – who is at university – had shared with me, and his peers, the huge benefits therapeutic counselling had brought to him but so had talking to people who understand and listen, even those not qualified as counsellors. This gave me the push I needed to take up the offer to join the team.

Training with City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA)

The training itself was brilliant. Delivered virtually by CMHA’s trained experts across four, two-hour sessions, there were no holds barred. It didn’t matter if this was a completely new area or if an individual already had experience in this area, it was an open and professional environment where no question was off limits.

It covered lots of ground, including how to spot the warning signs of someone struggling with their mental health; how to start a conversation and effectively be there for colleagues; as well as when to signpost to support services.

Having people open up to you can be a daunting prospect. However, guided by the CMHA, who we’ve been partners with since last year, we all learnt from each other and by the end of the training I felt confident I was able to support my colleagues to the best of my ability.

Following completion of this comprehensive course, we also received a pack of insightful course materials to summarise all of the sessions, so if I ever feel the need to refresh my knowledge, I have everything I need.

Changing perspectives on mental health

There’s no escaping the fact that at some point in our lives, most of us will struggle with our mental health in some way, shape, or form. It’s therefore imperative that as an organisation Bravura supports its employees in this area.

Recently, we’ve seen a huge rise in visibility for the bWell network as we work through our global restructuring initiative. Change can be a key source of anxiety and we’ve been involved in providing support for colleagues as the business works to become more product centric.

Becoming a MHC has been a hugely enriching and positive experience that I’d absolutely encourage more people to consider.

I’d also caveat this with a word of caution as this isn’t for everybody. It can sometimes involve giving a lot of your time and energy to others, which can take its toll on you emotionally.  Not everyone feels comfortable with the amount of effort and empathy that the role demands and there are plenty of other ways for individuals working at Bravura Group to support the team, if this is the case.

With this week being Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK (15 – 21 May 2023), there’s never been a better time to start a meaningful journey to improve your own mental health. For me, the experience has only deepened my desire to support my family, friends and co-workers with any mental health challenges they are facing. So much so that I’ve signed up for a counselling course outside of work and I can’t wait to get started.

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