Reaching a consensus: on mental health in the workplace
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a time when businesses and individuals alike can reflect on their understanding of, and commitment to, positive mental wellbeing. But this year, the topic of mental health, particularly in a workplace context, has taken on greater resonance, given the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations across the globe.
For most businesses, the last twelve months have been a challenging time. But not just in terms of economics alone. The enforcement of lockdown restrictions meant employees were largely disconnected from one another, and many have had to adjust to remote working as standard practice within their organisations.
So, with social contact relegated to the likes of Zoom and Teams, and with employees facing the precarious task of juggling their home and work lives like never before, it’s no wonder that conversations surrounding workplace mental health have gained momentum during the past year.
In April, we explored the issue of workplace mental health, considering the impact of the pandemic on mental wellbeing and taking a closer look how the Kenyons team have found balance in their lives through initiatives we’ve introduced.
Some of the key things touched on were:
- the ways digital communication platforms have impacted our work and personal lives
- buddy systems and online socials have allowed colleagues to stay connected
- there are some benefits to be found, including more productive time without the commuting hours
- remote working has provided increased flexibility and work/home-life balance.
But to find out how others have been prioritising mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, we spoke to businesses and their employees in the wider community to find out how they’ve worked to combat poor mental health and prioritise mental wellbeing in the long term.
Neil Ashcroft is the centre manager at St Johns Shopping Centre, the largest covered shopping centre in Liverpool, located in the heart of the city since 1969 and home to over 100 businesses. He said:
“With the retail sector hit especially hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health has never been more important to us and I want all of our team to have the support they need to succeed in the workplace.
St Johns are always developing new ideas and initiatives to promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace, and I want to continue that trend as restrictions ease and we move closer to normality.
We recently installed beehives on our roof, as minding bees has actually been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It’s one small, rather novel way of tackling mental health and promoting positive wellbeing, but we hope it has a beneficial impact on our team.
Now more than ever, it’s important we are doing whatever we can to support one another.”
Kris James is the founder of Amanzzo, a sustainable men’s swimwear and underwear brand producing luxury garments created entirely from recycled materials. He said:
“Promoting positive mental wellbeing has always been very close to my heart, and I’ve spent my career writing and thinking a lot about mental health in order to combat a stigma that still very much exists today.
As a values-driven business built on the principle of sustainability, Amanzzo also has a duty to support its team and ensure that mental wellbeing is prioritised in the workplace.
As such, I always encourage open channels of communication with my team, to foster a culture where people know they have someone to talk to when they need to. It’s a really important part of the wider ethos of my business.”
Dominic Lipscombe is the founder and director of Help Finder, a non-profit organisation that supports some of the most vulnerable people in the Liverpool city region, with a particular focus on poverty. He said:
“The work we do at Help Finder means we’re always speaking to people from a variety of different backgrounds and getting to hear their stories.
The team have been given so many compliments from those we’ve helped and that’s been hugely appreciated. It really makes our volunteers feel good at a time when there isn’t much to feel good about.
The demand on our services as a result of Covid-19 has inevitably caused us to grow, but we’ve been really careful to ensure that we maintain the dynamic of our small, close-knit team. We’re a family and not a corporation – and that connection to one another has kept us moving.”
Ben Dalton is the programme manager at Agent Academy, a social enterprise focused on inspiring and motivating young people to work in the creative and digital sectors. He said:
“Working from home throughout the pandemic, the team have been a great source of support – from online catch ups and weekly quizzes to book clubs, it’s really kept us going.
We’ve also been encouraged to step away from our desks and get outside. My team went on some socially distanced walks where we were able to take a break, stay connected and get some fresh air. It really did me a lot of good.
The main thing that really helped was the opportunity to access counselling if we wanted to. I was hesitant at first, but I decided to give it a go and I’m glad that I did. It was great to have the chance to speak to someone away from my work and home life, and discuss any worries or concerns that I had.”
Although there are always ways we can relate to one another, we also know that no two people will have had the same experience of managing mental wellbeing in the workplace during the last year.
So if you want to share your experience – whether that’s a positive mental wellbeing initiative your organisation implemented, or an aspect of pandemic working that you won’t be missing – get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media @WeAreKenyons.
Mental Health Awareness Week is a time when businesses and individuals alike can reflect on their understanding of, and commitment to, positive mental wellbeing. But this year, the topic of mental health, particularly in a workplace context, has taken on greater resonance