This feature was written by Alex Quang, Think and Partnerships Coordinator at Go Think Big…
It’s Healthy Minds Month here at Go Think Big. Throughout May, we’re talking all things mental health, as well as giving you guys the chance to get £500 grants to start mental health projects in your community. But, it’s not always all about us. Here at Go Think Big we’re really proud to work with a whole load of incredible partners. So we were curious about how big companies are promoting healthy minds to their employees. We caught up with MediaCom, Channel 4 and O2 to find out about the ways they’re battling the mental health stigma in their offices…
First and foremost, organisations need to lay a foundation for great things to happen. The culture of an organisation can have a huge impact on how people feel when they’re a part of it. Our friends at MediaCom say they “live by the mantra: ‘People First’ and believe that it is critical to bring our whole selves to work”. A big part of this is about work-life balance.
“We really strive to have an open and inclusive culture at MediaCom and encourage debate and understanding through our inclusion events,” Nancy Lengthorn, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Future Talent at MediaCom told us. “Our flexible working culture also plays a big part in ensuring our team are able to make time for hobbies, family and other priorities that help them to de-stress and when times are difficult, that flexibility can really afford people the opportunity for self care.”
So that’s great, we’re building a culture where people can fully be themselves but what if even when we’re being our full selves we struggle with our minds? We need to provide some sort of active support for our teams right? Without active support it may be difficult to back up our open and inclusive culture. “Enough talk, Alex! What support do these organisations even provide?” Well I’m glad you asked!
Since the end of 2016, Channel 4 have certified 40 mental health first-aiders throughout their organisation. In 2017, they’re actually training another 30 people, almost doubling the amount of direct support they’re offering to their staff. In fact, throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, Channel 4 ran workshops on a lot of really important topics like; ‘The impact of social media and technology on young people’s mental health’, ‘Mindfulness and simple tips and techniques to regulate our emotional wellbeing’, and ‘Coping strategies for those who have suffered from mental health issues’.
Mental Health champions
MediaCom are also appointing mental health allies throughout the business who will all receive training and provide support for people throughout the organisation. They’ve also established a Diversity and Inclusion Panel with a specific champion for mental health issues.
O2 are also doing some amazing things with Mental Wellbeing Champions. Liz, who joined O2 as a graduate, is now a Mental Wellbeing Champion at work. “Talking is the most important step to supporting everyone’s mental health at work,” she told us.
Liz experienced the impact of mental health first-hand during a challenging period at work. So how does she look after her own mental health at work today? She told us that for her it’s about “factoring in more sleep, adjusting my working patterns, or just allowing myself to chill out a bit more!”
What’s her advice for managing your mental health in a new role? “In amongst the excitement of starting a brand new job, it’s really easy to throw your heart and soul into your role, to the detriment of other aspects of your life,” she added. “I made a big effort not to stay in the office late unless it was necessary, and not to check emails at the weekends or on holidays.”
Great organisations like O2, MediaCom and Channel 4 are putting a lot of time, energy and resource into making sure that the mental wellbeing of their staff is front and centre. So why do they think other businesses should do the same?
Graeme Whippy, Disability Workplace Specialist at Channel 4 told us: “Employees who are feeling well, supported and able to be themselves at work are more likely to perform to the best of their ability and thrive in their careers.”
Nancy added: “There are numerous business reasons for supporting employees in this way, from a reduction in sick days and increases in creativity, to boosting morale and encouraging retention. But ultimately, it should boil down to one critical factor – it’s the right thing to do.”
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