Engaging with Workplaces during Mental Health Awareness
Week and Beyond
Author: Vicki Cockman- MHFA England
Date: May 2019
Right now, there are 32 million people in work across the UK –
and whether they are CEOs, managers, or administrators, they all
have mental health. Working life presents challenges that help us
to learn and grow, which can be a powerful driver for positive
wellbeing. At the same time, it’s here in the workplace that we
experience many of the pressures and stresses that most
significantly impact on our mental health.
Indeed, research shows that nearly two thirds of us have
experienced a mental health issue where work is a contributing
factor. Reassuringly, more and more leaders in the commercial world
are now recognising that they have the responsibility – and the
ability – to create a working environment that supports the mental
health of their teams. They understand that this is more than a
feel-good exercise, and that positive mental health and business
success go hand in hand.
From a financial perspective, mental ill health alone costs
employers a staggering £42 billion annually. Add that to the more
than 300,000 people falling out of work every year due to mental
ill health and it becomes very clear to employers that creating a
mentally healthy organisation is crucial. In a mentally healthy
workplace we are more likely to have higher job satisfaction, be
more engaged and be more productive – all of which protects the
sustainability of a business. And when it comes to workplace mental
health, good practice involves taking a ‘whole organisation’
This approach means weaving in wellbeing across processes and
policies and engaging with employees at every level and function.
It means thinking about ‘hygiene’ factors like healthy job design,
fair and equal pay, flexible working and reasonable adjustments.
It’s about training onsite staff to be mental health first aiders
so that early intervention is possible, and then promoting clear
pathways to further support for when people are struggling.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, this year Mental Health
First Aid (MHFA) England is excited to again be supporting
employers to highlight their commitment to workplace wellbeing with
two new campaigns: #EmpowerHalfHour and the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’
For the #EmpowerHalfHour campaign we’ve created a mini toolkit
to support workplaces to explore the link between mental and
physical wellbeing. We want to empower colleagues to connect, and
help them to start new, healthy habits that they can take forward
and build into their working day. The toolkit is packed full of
ideas for 30-minute activities centred around five themes – bond,
move, motivate, share, discover.
MHFA England is leading by example with a series of exciting
events to engage our team over Mental Health Awareness Week
including a mindfulness session, an employee run club, a full team
shared lunch, an engaging keynote address, and a Friday night yoga
class to round off the week.
Alongside this, the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign, led by
mental health campaigner Natasha Devon, Bauer Media UK and MHFA
England, is launching a bold new call for workplace leaders to lay
down their commitment to workplace wellbeing by signing up to the
‘Where’s Your Head At?’ Workplace
We are encouraging employers, business leaders, and MPs across
the country to sign up as official supporters of the manifesto to
show their commitment to prioritising mental health in the
workplace. The manifesto is a commitment to building diverse and
inclusive workplaces, to supporting and protecting mental health,
and to keeping the mental health and wellbeing of employees at the
heart of all we do in our organisations.
As the Workplace Lead for MHFA England, it is heartening to see
so many new businesses each month taking serious action to develop
mental health strategies and increase mental health awareness.
Many employers are already building a healthier future for their
teams, and the recently launched manifesto reinforces this vision
for a world where mentally healthy workplaces are the norm; the
kind of world we all want to work and live in. Signing up to this
manifesto is one small thing every employer can do to show they’re
serious about being a part of this vision, whether it’s the first
step or one of many.
Whatever stage your organisation is at, talking openly about
mental health, asking for support when it’s needed and treating
mental and physical health equally at work is something we should
all sign up for.
To find out more about how your organisation can become an
official supporter of the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ Workplace
Manifesto visit www.wheresyourheadat.org.
About the author:
Vicki Cockman is the Workplace Lead at Mental Health First Aid
(MHFA) England CIC. Vicki leads a team working with organisations
in a wide range of industries, supporting them to develop and
implement Mental Health First Aid training programmes. By helping
people to develop the skills to look after their own and others’
wellbeing, Vicki’s team supports MHFA England’s vision of
normalising attitudes and behaviours around mental health in all
areas of society. Vicki is passionate about breaking stigma around
mental health and creating workplaces where people feel able to
talk about their mental wellbeing.
Website: MHFA England