Episode 3: Tackling mental health at work

Learn how to support your people's health and wellbeing at work.

34 min read | 25 July, 2019

Following on from our panel discussion in episode 2 of The People Project, our series finale invites the people of Breathe into the studio.

We want to understand how we can start implementing what we learnt from our Mind expert, Mike Ellen, as well as professional contributors, Jacqui Mann, Clive Stone and Marteka Swaby to help support our people's health and wellbeing.


We’re joined by The People Project’s producer and member of Time to Change / Space to Breathe, Rachael Down, Breathe’s Head of People, Suzie Hunter and Time to Change Champion and front runner for this initiative, Sophie Crossman.

For anyone who’s missed the previous episodes, search and subscribe to The People Project Podcast on Apple or Spotify or from your chosen podcast provider.

Employee mental health

Firstly, thanks to everyone for joining me today. In this episode, we aim to cover our learnings and offer practical tips and guidance for how to implement mental health protection in the workplace. We’ll discuss what’s worked for our team of 38 and growing and areas that we’d like to improve.


How to set up a mental health initiative:

Find out how your team really feel and ask them to complete an anonymous survey every six months. What and how can you improve? This is a great way of tracking your progress and showing your people that management cares. 


Survey questions

  1. How satisfied are you with the amount that [company] does towards mental health?

  2. How comfortable are you talking to your line manager about your mental health?

  3. If you were experiencing an issue with your mental health, would you...

    a. Call in sick giving a different reason

    b. Call in sick advising of mental health issue

    c. Come to work anyway

    d. Book a last-minute holiday

  4. I  feel stressed about my work...

    a. All the time

    b. More often than not

    c. Sometimes

    d. Hardly ever

    e. Never

  5. Would you be interested in attending a breakfast session?

Time to change pledge_compressed-min

Senior leadership buy-in

Get your senior leadership team onboard before anything else. If you're an employee reading this, why not send them to our Culture Pledge or encourage them to read our blogs on mental health and why it's important. Here are a few to get you started:

Employee champions

  • It's daunting to open up about mental health issues, especially in the workplace. Try to encourage your employees - especially those with a personal connection with mental health - to speak up about their experience. As this is a sensitive and typically private matter for individuals, it's best to take a softer approach. Ask, don't force the question. Rachael Down wrote a blog post about what it can be like to live with depression. Read her story here


MHFA training

When mental-health issues arise in the workplace, it's hard to know where to turn. We'd recommend investing in Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) training for all line managers and invite other staff to put themselves forward. 

Check out the services at MHFA England or contact your local Mind

When to start investing in mental health

Early as you can. A quarter of your workforce is likely to suffer with mental health issues or illness. We started looking into this at 25/30 employees, but prevention is better than cure. Spend the time drawing up a system and enrolling on training programmes to ensure everyone is on the right track from the beginning. 


I love a lunch break ... I like to offer a walking meeting, completely free of charge. Just go round the block, get some new perspective and fresh air. And if you need to take notes, you can record it instead. - Sophie Crossman, Employee Champion, Breathe. 


What we're doing to tackle the stigma and protect our people:

  • We have an internal slack channel for wellbeing - walks into town, picnics in the park. 
  • Time to Change / Space to Breathe Team
  • BYOB morning chats
  • Headspace Team
  • Foosball table
  • Jigsaw
  • Flexible working

Join us next time on the People Project, where we’ll be changing tack to investigate how to create an agile workplace. We’ll look into ways of working that enable businesses to rapidly adapt to change and promote a growth mindset.

To kick things off, we're sitting down with Perry Timms who is a frequent contributor to discussions around HR, workplace learning, technology and the future of work. Described by Peter Cheese, the CEO of the CIPD as “The HR Futurist” and currently in the running for HR Most Influential Thinker 2019 - he took the title in 2017 - we're excited to welcome him into the studio.

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