The 10th of October was World Mental Health Day, so we decided to dedicate this month’s event to the topic of mental health in our industry. The event itself took place on Thursday, October 27th and featured a panel discussion, followed by a Q&A.
To demonstrate how tough 2022 has been for many people, ‘permacrisis’ has been selected as the Collins Dictionary word of the year:
In times like this, it’s all the more the important to have an open and honest discussion about our mental health, and to try and support one another.
This was our aim for this event, starting off with an introduction from our host Gabriella Ferenczi, who then introduced our panelists: Sam Moinet, Luchele Mendes and Zahra Santos.
The Panel Discussion
Our discussion started on the topic of loneliness, a problem that many language professionals face – especially those of us who work mostly online. Zahra started off by opening up about her experiences with loneliness and said that finding hobbies, joining clubs and trying new activities is the best way for her to meet new people and fight against loneliness.
Sam then spoke about helping others suffering from loneliness, stating it’s most important to ‘be a heart with ears’ when trying to be there for someone. Sam also explained how ‘fine’ can often mean ‘feelings inside not expressed’, demonstrating how it can often be helpful to open up to those close to us and say how we’re really feeling, instead of just saying we’re ‘fine’.
Luchele then discussed her experiences in recruitment, seeing many freelance professionals suffer as a result of not feeling like a true member of the team when they’re hired to work with an organisation, and how it can be helpful for these freelancers to come together for events and activities as to not feel alienated in the professional world.
Our Panel in the zoom call
The panel then discussed anxiety, and how it can impact us all to different extents. Sam mentioned how he often sees students self-diagnose and take on the label of an anxious person, just based on the information they’ve seen online. This reinforces the importance of seeking professional support if needed, instead of trusting everything we see on social media, as well as being conscious of how we are labelling ourselves and others.
Luchele and Zahra then discussed a higher prevalence of mental health problems in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, with issues such as microaggressions and a lack of diversity being all too common in certain workplaces, and something that we should all be conscious of.
Zahra mentioned how having therapists and counsellors who understand your cultural background can be helpful for members of minority ethnic groups.
We then talked about some very unique challenges that language professionals face, eg. a public service interpreter who has to interpret for a person who’s been through traumatising events, in first person singular. Or a language teacher who works with Ukrainian refugees from Bucha. A language educator who has a client that suffers from addition, depression, or deals with other challenges. How can we best support ourselves? And how can we best supports our clients?
To round out the discussion, each panelist spoke about what they do and what they would recommend for self-care. Luchele started by recommending mindfulness practices and meditation. Sam then mentioned how he has personally been helped through therapy, as well as seeking out peer-to-peer men’s groups. Finally, Zahra spoke about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, setting boundaries and when working from home, not sleeping where you work as to separate the two spaces.
After the panel discussion we started the Q&A section, including a question on how to deal with burnout at work. Luchele answered this by speaking about the importance of listening to what our body is telling us with regard to feeling burnout. It can also be important to set firm boundaries as to not find yourself being overworked, and to take care of your sleep, diet and exercise routines to stay feeling healthy.
Zahra then mentioned the Japanese term ‘karoshi’, meaning ‘death by overwork’. This demonstrates the importance of taking time to relax, and engaging in activities such as meditation to counteract the negative impact that burnout and overworking can have on us.
Another important question was related to bullying and racism. Social media also came up in the discussion, and how it can impact our mental wellbeing. This led Sam to talk about his personal relationship with social media, trying to post frequently online and promote his business without being consumed by it. There is clearly no one size fits all solution here either.
Communication is vitally important to helping with our struggles. This event was never going to solve mental health and suddenly make everything okay. But by having these conversations, by opening up and allowing others to open up to us we can begin to help and support one another. That was at least our intention.
We hope that everyone who attended this event got something out of it, whether it be some tips and actionable steps to help yourself and others or just the feeling of being heard and understood in a positive and friendly discussion. We hope that we can continue to communicate openly and honestly about these challenges.
About the Panelists
Translation Project Manager, Public Service Interpreter and qualified Mental Health First Aider
Zahra grew up between Spain and the UK. She holds a BA in Translation and Interpreting in Japanese and Spanish. After spending a year living and studying in Yokohama, Japan, she went on to complete an MA in Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling. She is now a Translation Project Manager at an iGaming company and does freelance public service interpreting. She has experience interpreting Spanish for national health trusts, the police and district and city councils. Zahra has also recently completed training and is a qualified Mental Health First Aider.
Diversity-focused Natural Language Processing (NLP) Recruitment Consultant, Mental Health Ambassador, Podcast Co-Host
Luchele Mendes is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) focused Principal Recruiter at Trust in Soda. She focuses on hiring Computational Linguists, NLP Researchers and Machine Learning Engineers for German, Swiss and California based clients hiring across Conversational AI, Machine Translation and Search.
She is passionate about Mental Health and is an ambassador at Trust In Soda where she helps deliver talks, events and initiatives to her group. She is also a Podcast host discussing topics such as NLP and Mental Health.
ICF certified Coach, Founder of Student Breakthrough and the Educators’ Coaching Academy, two organisations on a mission to transform mental health support in UK schools
Sam Moinet is an education disrupter and is leading the revolution in student well-being. As an international speaker and coach, his aim is to transform emotional support for young people and create lasting change for future generations.
As a teacher for half a decade, Sam found many problems within the education system. Many students failed to achieve the grades they wanted, they lacked self-confidence and were not motivated to achieve their very best.
After feeling frustrated with the lack of support for young people, Sam wanted to have a bigger impact on his students and provide them with essential life skills so that they can create success, happiness and well-being without pushing their problems away.
Having gained his coaching qualifications, Sam began working with students on a one-to-one basis and created his own coaching programme.
Student Breakthrough has helped thousands of students worldwide and trained hundreds of teachers in order to bring coaching to more students and help more young people.
Any questions or comments on mental health in the language services industry? Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation there.