According to a 2017 PRCA/PRWeek survey on the subject, 59 percent of PR and comms practitioners have experienced some form of mental illness, and almost half believe that the PR industry is not very accepting of those with mental ill health.
Early prevention is the key to helping those experiencing mental ill health. To do this, it is crucial to create a culture that puts the well-being of employees at the core of an organisation. We need to change the stigma of mental health, particularly in the workplace, by raising awareness and openly talking about it. Only then will people feel comfortable enough to discuss it with their managers and seek help before it becomes life-threatening.
With today being World Mental Health Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share what I’ve been doing at Ketchum for workplace wellbeing, and my five steps to building a successful employee wellness programme.
This is essential. After completing Mental Health First Aid training, I was inspired to implement a wellness programme in our London office, but where to start? Organisations like Mind, Calm, Time to Change and Mental Health First Aid England have great resources and toolkits that can be easily adapted for any workforce. I also looked into what other companies are doing and how it works for them.
Make it inclusive:
I sent out a well-being survey to London colleagues to find out how they rated their wellbeing, what they think of our approach to wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, and what we can do to improve—but more importantly what they want from the programme. I was determined to create a programme that offers something for everyone.
When designing the programme, I thought about what I wanted to achieve from this initiative. These were my main objectives:
- Raise awareness of mental health by signposting wellbeing tips and contact information for our EAP and Private Mental Health Care and train up 14 of our managers in Mental Health First Aid.
- Educate and equip employees with the tools they need to manage their own wellbeing by delivering a range of workshops on topics such as resilience, time management, managing conflict and work life balance, as well as having specialist guest speakers visit the office to discuss mindfulness, sleep, fitness and nutrition.
- Get people moving by offering activities like yoga and pilates classes, discounted gym memberships and onsite health screenings, all of which have been very popular since the launch of our programme five months ago, with 77 gym membership sign ups,66 health screening attendees and more than 25 yoga and pilates classes hosted so far.
Get leadership buy-in:
Without having the backing of your leadership team, it just won’t work. Fortunately, our executive team and Head of HR, Kirsty Sachrajda, have been incredibly supportive in implementing the programme, and fully understand its importance. In London for instance, our executive team even attended the First Aid training to become Mental Health Champions. Organisations such as Mind, Time to Change and MHFA England have great presentation training resources, as well as strong statistics around mental health, to help you make the case for a programme within your organisation.
Keep up the momentum:
We launched our programme on 16th May 2018 during Mental Health Awareness Week, leaving “wellness packs” on everyone’s desks with a healthy food voucher and piece of fruit. Since then, we’ve had wellbeing activities taking place every single week—whether it’s yoga, a sleep workshop or health screenings, there is always something happening in the office to both keep everyone engaged in the programme and continue the vital conversation around mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.