Mental Health UK welcomes Olympian Michelle Griffith-Robinson as new trustee

We are proud to announce that Olympic athlete, Michelle Griffith-Robinson has joined our board of trustees at Mental Health UK.


Michelle represented Team GB in the Triple Jump at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Outside the world of sport, she is a successful businesswoman and mother of three. With a passion for fitness and personal growth, she delivers coaching and mentoring to individuals and organisations, and is an ambassador for Women’s Aid, The Menopause Charity and Diabetes UK. She has also spoken in parliament numerous times on the topics of diversity and menopause.

She joins the board of trustees at Mental Health UK, which has ultimate responsibility for the vision, performance and strategy of the charity, meeting regularly to discuss governance and operations.

Michelle shared with us her aspirations for the role alongside her hopes and ambitions for supporting people’s mental health.

How important is developing and maintaining good mental health to you personally and within the work you do supporting others?

When we talk about mental health, we have to reflect inwardly – what does good, positive mental health look like for me –because everyone is different. What can you do on a daily basis to support yourself? It could be activities encouraging better sleep, good nutrition, or movement. All those things are very important to me too. For positive mental health you do need to have a strong foundation to sustain you through the tough times, so it’s important that whatever we do to support ourselves it has longevity.

In your work, you talk of the real challenges people face achieving their goals. What are some of the ways people have overcome or harnessed their mental health to reach their desired destination?

In the work I do as a life coach, motivator, and inspirational speaker, I often have lots of people that say they are struggling and “how do I overcome this?”. What I’ve always said to them is break the challenge or problem down into manageable chunks. Talk about it with your trusted support system to ensure you feel heard and understood.

I’ve equally been through some really challenging times. In the last few months, I lost my sister-in-law very suddenly. It’s been important to talk about how I feel, the effects it’s had on me. It’s caused me more anxiety than ever. Because I received the call about her in the night I find that I’m anxious when I go to bed. Telling other people and sharing that vulnerability has helped me to recognise that the chances of that happening again are slim. People can’t support me if I don’t open up and share. This is something I’ve encouraged a lot of my clients to do. If I’m mentoring them, I’ll always say to them: “Let’s bring this back to reality. What are the chances of what you fear happening?”. False evidence can appear real until you take a minute and stop to review what you are thinking, and other people are key to this.

In a nutshell, I often tell people to find their tribe and thrive. Get some honest people in your circle that will support you to call out false or unhelpful thoughts.

Could you share some of the ways you’ve nurtured your own mental health in the past, alongside your family’s?

I go for lots of long walks. If I feel down, I take myself out of the environment and connect with nature. It isn’t expensive and whatever the weather, we have fun going out for walks and just take in our surroundings. It’s scientifically proven to benefit your physical and mental health. We do other social things together as a family to provide a sense of togetherness.

We also talk a lot about mental health as a family. For my son, one of his coping strategies is to put on white noises. He likes listening to stories late at night to relax and calm down before bedtime.

Personally, I do a lot of deep relaxing breathing before I go to bed. Letting everything from the day all go before I sleep. Little small coping strategies like that are so helpful and you can do them in your own time, pace and space.

What has been the hardest moment of your career, and how did you overcome this?

I think the hardest moment of my career has to be when you don’t make an Olympic team. This for me is my world, I dedicate years and years of time, effort and passion into it. If it doesn’t come to fruition, it can be incredibly hard. I’ve had to dust myself off and try to bounce back again. But I think sometimes you have to have a moment that’s tough before rising to the challenge again. Stop in that moment, reflect on how hard it is but rather than dismissing it, think how you can challenge it. It’s important to have a positive mindset, when one door closes, another opens. But I also understand – it can be overwhelming. We all go through dark times and manage to get through it – so what helped you get through it? For example, I realised I wasn’t going be an Olympic standard long jumper. So, when the Triple Jump came in I knew I could master that really well and refocused.

What was the highlight of your career?

Two moments in particular stand out. Putting on the Great Britain tracksuit for the very first time when I was 19 years old – was such a wow moment. Then when I was chosen to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Olympic Games. Walking out to the Olympic Stadium with 95,000 people there. Looking back, I do wish I sat in that moment a bit longer to take it all in.

“I feel very proud of becoming a trustee. I’m looking forward to making some fantastic changes alongside my peers to ensure everyone has access to mental health resources.”

– Michelle Griffith-Robinson

You’ve raised the profile of women’s experiences during the menopause by sharing your own story to empower others. Do you consider the landscape to have changed from when you first started campaigning to now?

Absolutely, it’s definitely changed from when we first started campaigning back in 2020. There’s a lot more positive noise around it which has spread awareness, but there’s still so much to be done. There’s still a lot of confusion out there for women about symptom management and how the menopause can impact on your mental health. It’s great that people are now starting to take it seriously and understanding how the symptoms can impact on your self-esteem, confidence etc. I think there’s around 13 million women that are perimenopausal and menopausal, most of whom will be managing their symptoms at work. It’s critical that workplaces support them.

You’ve done a lot of work around the diversity of experiences, particularly black and ethnic minority women. What were your observations when you first came to this area that led you to start working in it?

Black and ethnic minorities and underrepresented groups, and I can certainly talk through the lens of a black woman but there are a lot of other groups that need to be heard, such as transgender women. All voices need to be heard.

Menopause can sometimes be regarded through a stereotypical lense – white middle class women. One of the reasons why I campaigned with Holland and Barrett is because they are determined to get everyone’s voices out there. Black women often start the menopause earlier than white women so it’s important to acknowledge those differences in order to understand how that might impact someone.

Is there anything else that you think needs to be done to ensure open conversations are happening about the real impact of menopause?

Raising awareness is key. We need to constantly talk about it to ensure that people who identify as women have a safe space to talk about the support they might need at work. We have to raise it to people’s consciousness for them to start understanding and adapting behaviours and actions. One size doesn’t fit all, especially in an inclusive society.

It’s important to take the time to understand mental health and the real challenges people face. All too often you hear people speaking of mental health saying they have depression, anxiety or OCD but before using those terms ensure they are used correctly. To use those terms frivolously in banter isn’t helpful – people are facing these struggles on a daily basis.

Everyone has mental health so let’s talk about it. Everyone will know someone who has or is struggling with their mental health, so we need to have open honest conversations about it.

“Everyone will know someone who has or is struggling with their mental health, so we need to have open honest conversations about it.”

– Michelle Griffith-Robinson

“Michelle’s expertise as an Olympian, successful businesswoman and passionate ambassador on a range of issues, including her powerful work raising awareness of the unique challenges Black and minority ethnic women face during menopause, will be invaluable to our board of trustees. Michelle’s dedication to helping others overcome barriers and live full, healthy lifestyles embodies our mission at Mental Health UK, and we’re delighted to welcome her onboard.”

– Brian Dow, Chief Executive at Mental Health UK

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