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Workplace stress

In their report – thriving at work Paul Farmer (CEO of MIND) and Dennis Stevenson noted that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work that is much larger than we had thought.

Its timely during mental health awareness week where the theme is Stress : are we coping, to remind ourselves of the mental health core standards that can be adopted across all workplaces at little or no cost. These are :

– Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
– Develop mental health awareness among employees;
– Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
– Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development;
– Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
– Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing

So how do we measure up as an organisation whose core business is mental health? Whilst we currently don’t have an overarching mental health at work plan we do have a range of policies and support in place that are effectively that, for example, our induction packs clearly set out our commitment to allowing our employees to “take 10” for either mindfulness or a walking break.

We use the opportunities presented by awareness weeks to raise awareness of our own well-being support needs and have a nominal well-being budget for every employee. We have a 24/7 employee assistance help-line that provides support in relation to work or home life, legal and financial issues.
We’ve used time to talk days to encourage open conversations about mental health and its something we as a senior management team regularly check in about. We monitor our sickness levels which run at about 3.5% and our work stress rate (0.23% at Sept 17). We pride ourselves on offering good working conditions and development opportunities, supporting employees through mentoring, coaching and leadership opportunities. Supervision is a space where we can check in with employees about their well-being and make plans to provide additional support or flexibility when required.

This week as a part of mental health awareness week we have arranged for Phoenix Health & Wellbeing to attend head office and offer mini therapy sessions to employees who want to take part. I’ve booked in for a reiki session as its one of the few alternative therapies I haven’t tried yet.

We have regular leadership and development days where the whole of our leadership team gets together to learn from each other and share best practice.

Could we do more? We are always looking for effective ways to manage stress and support our employees, it’s so important that the care givers are also care receivers as the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and if you can’t talk about your mental health when working for a mental health and well-being charity where can you talk about it?
Remember, an individual can have a serious mental health problem but – with the right support – can still be thriving at work.