Following Carmen's interview with The Business Solutions team, here are Carmen's tips for supporting mental health in the workplace.
Have a well-being lead.
It's really important to have a well-being lead at a senior level in the organisation, it helps to share the commitment, it's really important to have that presence at that level.
The Stevenson/Farmer report centralises the information and staff have a visible commitment. It's important to normalise the conversations, ending the stigma and raise awareness. A mental health at work plan is a tool I would recommend that employers can implement.
Ask your employees.
Gain insights from your employees, SCG runs Wellbeing Days, incredibly important to me as I get input from them about what they want to see at the college. I would absolutely run dry with ideas otherwise, and also it's important that staff get to say what is important to them and what they feel the college needs. Could be forums or questionnaires.
Don't underestimate the fun stuff - employee engagement.
We run a Santa event every year, we turn a small office into a Santa's grotto and a lovely member of staff dresses up as Santa and I'm usually an elf! We invite all the staff member's children in and they all get a selection box, a bit of music and nibbles, it's just magical and staff talk about it all year round. Obviously, last year, there was a new challenge of everything being remote, we filmed Santa talking to the children, we told the children Santa was doing it remotely this year and it worked really well.
Don't worry too much about the financial restraints.
I don't have a budget particularly, I do a lot of begging, borrowing and trying to get as much through as I can for staff as possible. We are fortunate, I do have a budget for things like private counselling services, and that is quite expensive but if an employer doesn't have that available to them they could promote the work of the IAPT services which is an NHS service and is completely free. They don't have to be referred through their GP so they can contact them directly, so just by promoting these services, normalising and reducing stigma.
Talk Mental Health, Promote it at every opportunity.
Things like Stress Awareness Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, just by talking about them you don't have to do a huge amount, pop them in your Newsletters, pop it in your team meetings, just get talking about Mental Health. Promote, promote, promote.
I completed an ODL course recently, Level 2 Mental Health Awareness, I learnt a huge amount, it was incredibly useful and it's completely free for people if they are over 19 and live in England and some postcodes in Wales. It's distance learning, you do it in your own time, at your convenience, it's really flexible and I'd really recommend anyone to do that.
Put all your resources in one central place.
This way it is easily accessible to staff, when you start to look at what you already offer, you might be quite surprised that you do have a package together. Most employers offer an eye test, usually a bonus scheme or a long term incentive, you could include information on the IAPT services too. Once you have it all down in one place, you might be quite surprised what you have available and it's just about promoting it and making it accessible.