To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Jane Rowland of IPG member Troubador explains what it is doing to promote the issue
Mental Health Awareness Week
takes place from 13 to 19 May, and Troubador Publishing is marking it with a week-long series of events for staff.
We’ll be kicking off with an introduction to mental health in the workplace and running a range of activities including a joke-a-thon, team-building treasure hunt, massages, stress-management exercises and breathing and meditation workshops for staff. Over the top for a company of 25 people? We don’t think so.
When we first started Troubador, more than 20 years ago, a first aid box and accident book covered most incidents. Now the first aid box thankfully gathers dust, but the emotional needs of staff are more prominent. Line managers are increasingly dealing with emotive issues, and these can impact our team just as much. Of course, the workplace has changed a lot over the last 20 years, and today’s employees are arriving with different expectations, beliefs, backgrounds and outlooks, and we want to respond to these shifts in a positive way. When we saw that Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA)
was running Mental First Aid
courses for the workplace, it seemed like a great time to get trained up and acknowledge how our own working lives have changed.
We now have two (soon to be three) fully trained mental health first aiders, who act as our wellbeing-at-work champions. They train line managers, offer confidential listening support to staff and arrange awareness events to keep the topic fresh.
Stats about mental health in the workplace are eye-opening, with stress, depression and anxiety being the headline conditions. The HSE says around 595,0000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and 15.4 million working days are lost to the same causes. NHS England says three quarters of all mental health problems are established by the age of 24—which as a company working closely with new graduates coming into their first professional role is something we take seriously. Mind estimates that 95% of staff calling in sick will not give the real reason if it is related to mental health, because of a fear of stigma.
It is clear there is a huge business cost to mental health. But for us it is more about what kind of company we want our team to work in, and our customers to work with. For 2019, our aim was to formally embed a company culture where physical and mental health are equal, and to break the stigma. So this week we’ll all be learning about mental health and understanding how to communicate about it at work—and we’d be interested to hear what other members of the IPG are doing around this crucial subject.