When is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is on 10th October; an event that has been running for almost 30 years, during which time openness in talking about mental health has dramatically increased. This is yet to match with investment across healthcare systems, where countries on average spend just 2% of their health budget on mental health, and in the workplace, where wellness and training budgets are often seen as discretionary.
How Covid-19 Has Affected Mental Health in the Workplace
The global pandemic has affected everyone and put significant pressure on our mental health. Workplaces look different, whether operating virtually or socially distanced, and this years’ World Mental Health Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect and consider what actions and activities might support employees in addition to ongoing programmes.
The theme, set by the World Health Organisation, is Mental Health for All, calling for more significant investment and greater access. The workplace can support this theme by considering the impact of programmes that are currently in place to encourage employees to notice changes in both their own mental health and that of colleagues and identify any gaps.
How to Encourage Open Conversation in the Workplace
World Mental Health Day can be an opportunity to encourage open conversation and raise awareness of the signposting and support available both within and external to organisations.
This can include your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), private healthcare, Samaritans and local Mind branch. This idea can be a focus for an event in its own right or part of a broader programme involving speakers and employees focussing on the elements of mental health support that have been important for them. Events will look different in 2020, and workplaces will need to use creativity and technology to engage.
If you are holding a team meeting in October, consider starting with a wellbeing check-in, asking everyone to share how they are feeling at that moment and ban the descriptor, ‘I’m fine’. The role of the team is to listen, not offer solutions.
Mental Health Workshops for Employees
Mental Health at Work have developed a number of virtual modules that address specific areas of concern raised recently by clients including, Situational Anxiety, Resilience, Grief & Loneliness, all of which we can deliver in small virtual facilitated workshops or more extensive webinars. These provide both understanding and context for aspects of our mental health and provide practical skills to help employees manage in the workplace and beyond and complement our broader workplace programmes. Please get in touch here if you would like to find out more about how we can support your organisation.
How Can Your Business Support World Mental Health Day at Work?
Research shows that talking is good for our mental health. The Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Tea & Talk’ events are more important than ever this year, intended to be broad and inclusive, encouraging a conversation about anything. You can host your event any time you like. You can do it virtually, or meet up in a small group and even incorporate a virtual bake-off. Please make sure you check out the latest government guidelines around social distancing.
The money you raise for the Mental Health Foundation will help them to continue working on the mental health response to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, they have produced multiple resources on managing your mental health at this time, which have been accessed by over 1.1 million people worldwide and translated into seven different languages.
The ‘how-to’ guides around mental health are available for individuals to help them support and manage their own mental health. Click here to learn more.
Green Ribbons are a symbol of awareness and support around mental health. In purchasing them you are donating to the Mental Health Foundation, and they are equally impactful on Zoom calls as they are in the office! Click here to learn more.
If you have an Employee Interest Group or a network of Mental Health Allies, who have a role as expert listeners and signposters, then this is an ideal opportunity to ask them to lead events around themes that have arisen during the Covid-19 pandemic. This could be a series of 1:1 wellbeing check-ins, a programme around people who have expressed an interest in sharing their personal stories, ‘masterclass’ style events on a particular aspect of workplace mental health, guidance on how individuals can manage their own mental health and even visual installations to represent how mental health impacts your workplace.
Make a Difference in Your Workplace with Mental Health at Work
The critical message for the workplace is that, more than ever before, we need to know our colleagues better, so that we can notice changes, even virtually, which might indicate a move away from mental health for them. The kindness of starting that conversation might make a difference and lead to signposting and support. If we are to get to know our colleagues, it is the conversation that is important, and it can be about anything.