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The importance of mental health and wellbeing initiatives

by Rayhaneh Tehrani | 22 June 2021

It is a well-known statistic that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives; we hear about this in the media all the time and this is backed up with the figures shared by the NHS.

Latest figures from Mind state that 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. It is also widely documented that more people are dealing with mental health problems across the population over the last 15 months, as a result of living in a world dominated by COVID-19. Anxiety and depression has impacted even the most emotionally resilient people, and the figures from mental health charities definitely back this up. Naturally, this will impact on staff wellbeing and performance, so employers really need to be proactive to try and help their people through any mental health and wellbeing struggles.

Employees are the most important asset of any business; without them organisations would simply not be able to survive. Employees need to be looked after both physically and mentally. Companies and organisations who have more awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues and who have plans and activities in place to help their employees are much more likely to have a productive workforce. Employees who feel valued and cared for will naturally be more productive and will be more likely to stay with their current employer, improving overall staff retention rates.

There are many actions that employers can take to help improve the mental health of employees. As a specialist legal recruiter, I have noticed that many of our clients are implementing more and more wellbeing initiatives. In a world where the competition is fierce, it is great to offer thoughtful initiatives that really stand out and ensure employees are offered an excellent working environment.

I have listed below some simple ideas on how to incorporate mental health and wellbeing initiatives into the working week. We have implemented many of these at Sellick Partnership with great success. I also took the opportunity to speak to one of my clients in local government, Louise Round and Josy Smith at the South London Legal Partnership, to see what initiatives they have in place. South London Legal Partnership have a fantastic approach towards employee wellbeing and have some great ideas.

Mental Health First Aiders

One really effective idea is the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace. We have five at Sellick Partnership and they act as a point of contact for anyone needing some assistance. South London Legal Partnership also have 33 Mental Health First Aiders. There are registered courses that staff can attend to get some excellent insight into helping employees with any mental health concerns. The role of a Mental Health First Aider involves as a point of contact and offering reassurance to a person who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. It is important for employees to know that they can speak to someone at work on a confidential basis.

Group activities and classes

South London Legal Partnership have knitting groups, language classes and Zumba, to name a few. These team activities are fantastic, as it encourages bonding between colleagues. Additionally, some of the activities on offer, such as knitting, are very relaxing!  Zumba and Yoga are great for both mental and physical wellbeing. Language classes can be a good way to take your mind off daily stresses whilst learning something new. South London Legal Partnership also have a LGBTQIA+ focus group for people to share their insights and opinions.

Wellbeing Wednesdays and extended lunch breaks

South London Legal Partnership have Wellbeing Wednesdays which is a staff resilience and wellbeing group. Employees who attend find it a useful forum to share experiences and wellbeing tips.

Here at Sellick Partnership we offer all employees an extended lunch break once a week to join an exercise class, or to go on a long lunchtime walk and enjoy some fresh air. The aim of this initiative is to help people get away from their desks and to try and relax a little after a busy morning.

Tea & Talk

Something as simple as a “Tea & Talk” session is really effective. Tea & Talk sessions are great because they also offer a chance to fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation. Tea & Talk is about having conversations with those around you, because talking is good for your mental health. It encourages colleagues to spend time together and talking is always good for wellbeing!

These are just a few wellbeing initiative ideas which are not too onerous to implement, and these have been received really positively. It is important for employers to reduce stigma around mental health concerns and wellbeing and create a positive workplace for employees. Some of the ideas above can lead to improved team work, productivity, and engagement.

If you are interested in discussing this topic further or have any other fantastic ideas as to how mental health and wellbeing can be improved in the workplace, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to contact me on 0161 834 1642 or email me at rayhaneh.tehrani@sellickpartnership.co.uk.