Toasts to “Health, Wealth and Happiness” have been practiced by almost every culture since the beginning of time. It goes without saying that most people go to work to earn a living, but have you ever considered whether your workplace also supports health and happiness?
Since achieving our Workplace Health Silver Award back in March 2018, at Forms Plus, we have been feeling the benefits of a greater emphasis on looking after ourselves at work. Healthy team lunches, walks and exercise together, hydration challenges, and a greater focus on musculoskeletal health at our desks and in our warehouse, are just a few of the initiatives we have enjoyed as we work towards our Gold Award.
Keeping physically healthy is only part of our ambition. Stress, anxiety and depression cause more days off sick than any other health problem and 1 in 4 workers in the UK are affected every year. People who are unhappy at work are far less likely to stay with the company, while a healthy, happy team is far more motivated and dedicated. Most shocking of all, figures from Time To Change indicate that 95% of employees who call in sick with stress feel they need to give a different reason.
To help our team feel more comfortable having conversations about mental health and share their experiences, and to equip our managers to have better conversations about mental health, Forms Plus have signed up to two further initiatives. Training and support from Time to Change, Mindful Employer and Mental Health First Aid England are already helping us to build a supportive culture around Mental Health at work and give our team the tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy.
So far, all our team have received some training around Mental Health and some have become Mental Health First Aiders. We asked them what they thought:
“It has definitely helped me to realise that mental health is a serious matter. It is very important to look out for symptoms if someone around us is showing any signs as we could make a huge difference if we can help those who suffer from some sort of mental illness”.
“I have always naturally wanted to be able to fix everyone’s problems for them but after being on the MHFA course I have since found just listening and not giving my input/advice when it comes to mental health is actually more effective.”
“It made me stop and think about the impact your actions and words have on others and what is the best way to respond”
“People have got a better understanding of how mental health can affect anyone and it isn’t the same for everyone. I would like to think we are more considerate of each other.”
“The emphasis that the office has placed on mental health has led me to take a further interest in material that I would not have paid attention to in the past. The insight from those I work with who have connections to people with mental health issues have played a really big part in my understanding”
“What surprised me the most is how much just talking can help. Particular types of depression require medication but in many of the case studies we watched on the course talking therapy and support groups were the best forms of treatment.”
Adding to the physical benefits of getting outside, rain or shine, we have added a mental health element to our Wellbeing Walks. Team members can take a short walk with a colleague to talk through any issues that are impacting on their mental health. Sometimes this is something they are going through personally. Other times it is a family member or friend who is suffering. The combination of fresh air, exercise and a listening ear are clearly having a positive impact already….
“I have had one Wellbeing Walk. I always enjoy getting out for a walk and a light chat and feel better for the short break. The programme is a good reminder that it is good to offload things sometimes.”
“I went on a walk recently and found it helped clear my head. I got what was on my mind off my chest and felt I could concentrate on my work better on my return.”
“I take part in all of the walks. A quick jaunt and a bit of sunshine refreshes you and refocuses your mind.”
As we write this, it is World Mental Health Day. So, to finish, here are our team’s top tips for looking after your own mental health at work….
“Remember you are human and there is only so much that you can do in one day”
“Take a break and go outdoors for a walk. It helps bring perspective back to whatever you were struggling with.”
“Talk more and be open about your feelings… No one is perfect, look for the best and be positive where you can.”