Businesses are recognising that a failure to address employee wellness, and particularly issues around mental health costs the UK economy up to £99 billion each year. For a workforce to remain supported, we must remove the stigma of discussing mental health. Take a look at what initiatives Corsham Institute has put in place to support their work environment.
The challenges that people face are often not visible and can affect any one of us. That’s why, at Corsham Institute, we’re committed to fostering an environment which allows every member of our team to thrive, by ensuring that the necessary support structures are in place.
Formal and informal training
Just as every office needs a first aider in case of a workplace accident or emergency, we also wanted to incorporate mental health first aid should any of our colleagues need that support. We now have two MHFA accredited first aiders who are trained to provide initial support and advice should anyone in the office face a crisis situation, such as a panic or anxiety attack, or even a suicidal crisis. This has also equipped us with the skills to spot the signs of mental health issues and support colleagues in distress.
Last week, ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, we held a session to promote mental health and wellbeing within our organisation. The session worked to provide information, demystifying mental ill-health, and exploring helpful coping strategies when we’re feeling overwhelmed. We facilitated group discussions around ways to manage stress and encouraged our team to understand and manage their ‘Stress Containers’. We also took the opportunity to discuss what our mental health and wellbeing provision should look like.
Promoting wellbeing within the working environment
There are number of simple changes we can make to improve the working environment. Here are some of the things we are implementing:
- Promoting reflection on our stress containers and how to manage them
- Encouraging people to take time to step away from their desks
- Allowing flexible working
- Ensuring that we connect with colleagues, whether that’s talking about the weekend on a Monday morning or having a break for lunch together. Last week we hosted a team picnic which was great fun and marked the beginning of our #EmpowerHalfHour activities.
One of the things that stood out to us was that our lives are so busy that we forget, or don’t make time, to do things that we enjoy. Following our wellbeing session, we set each team member a homework task – setting aside a whole hour to switch off and do something that they enjoyed.
We hope that this provides some food for thought. For useful resources, more on #EmpowerHalfHour and information on the MHFA accreditation, visit mhfaengland.org.
Author: Eleri Burnhill, Researcher, Corsham Institute