Talking about mental health is an important conversation for businesses

Talking about mental health is an important conversation we need to have; the representatives championing Mental Health Awareness Week continue to grow and shine much needed attention to the conflict, stigma and realities surrounding mental health. The support of royal and public figures makes a huge impact, the likes of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who launched Heads Together and were involved in #MeantalHealthMinute radio broadcast earlier this week are bringing this tough issue to a national status, and while there is stigma still attached to the mention of ‘mental health’, as a population we most definitely have a much better understanding of the issue because of initiatives such as this.

Sunday night’s recent Louis Theroux episode talked candidly about the psychological pressures new mothers feel post birth and no doubt it was a stark awakening for many viewers who only see a strong exterior in people nearest and dearest to them. Businesses, whether in the private or public sectors have a duty of care and we’re gradually opening up to the fact that strong mental health is vital to the operational delivery for many organisations and individuals. It is not just about being successful; happy and productive colleagues will produce better content and output on a daily basis.

Wellbeing support and mental health guidance

At Bennett Hay we are setting goals to ensure that mental health guidance and applications are available to colleagues and clients on a daily ongoing and personal basis. For instance, supporting wellbeing through a benefits platform (such as salary-extras), gym memberships to encourage staying active, health plans to look after physical issues, and a 24 hour counselling service/employee assistance programme have been introduced in recent years.

A holistic approach to help protect against stress

Having a holistic approach to helping colleagues look after their mental health will help to protect against unnecessary stress. This could come in the form of help with financial planning, discount programme’s to help with cost of living, paying fair salaries or financial advice available through the benefits programme.

Mental health is about perspective

Mental health is about perspective – how can we support a colleague whose mental health is suffering? We have to encourage discussion before listening and engaging with any medical professionals to support them outside of the workplace and ensuring that there is a joined up support system in place. Our approach to mental health has developed and grown but it’s important to remember to be patient and supportive as it may not be something that will improve overnight.

A sense of workplace community

We also recognise that in order to enhance people’s mental health we need to ensure that there is sense of community within the workplace. In order to facilitate this we have hired a Happiness Officer, Susie Cery. Susie will be focussed on facilitating communication and driving engagement, creating media-based platforms to allow teams to communicate, socialise and share, just like you would in a traditional office setting. This is particularly important if your teams work in different client locations or regularly travel as part of their role. Regardless of position or age everyone has their own stresses and woes, by building a workplace community we are coming together to positively inspire the inner narrative.

by Claire Huish, Colleague Services Manager at Bennett Hay