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Mental Health Awareness Week: Driving Conversations and Ending the Stigma

Sinead Murphy May 18, 2020 3:18:00 PM

According to mental health charity Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Mental Health Awareness Week, celebrated from 18-24 May 2020, aims to get people talking about their mental health in a bid to reduce the social stigma surrounding seeking help.

Mental Health Awareness Week has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001 and revolves around a theme. This year’s theme of “kindness” has been chosen in response to the current coronavirus outbreak that is affecting so many of us.


The Importance of Kindness and Mental Health

Kindness has the ability to unlock our shared humanity, as it strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. Amid the current pandemic, we have seen kindness prevail globally, through community, support and hope.

According to Mark Rowland, Chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, studies show there is a strong relationship between the wellbeing, happiness and longevity of those of us who are compassionate.

Doing good can help reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing, and carrying out a good deed doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost money.

This has been highlighted in the recent charity efforts conducted by 100-year-old Colonel Tom Moore, who walked 100 lengths of his garden to raise money in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Not only did Tom raise a phenomenal amount, but he inspired many others to support the cause.


Mental Health at Work

In the UK alone 1 in 6 employees are affected by mental health problems (Mental Health First Aid England), which not only affect their personal life but their work life too.

Although the awareness of mental health issues is increasing, the Mental Health Foundation state that fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons people give for not telling their colleagues about their mental health problems.

Businesses perform better when their staff are happy, healthy and motivated. Creating an inclusive workplace culture that offers mental health and wellbeing support makes it easier for people to be themselves and speak up about mental health concerns without fear.


How Can You Help Drive Conversations About Mental Health?

  1. Normalise Mental Health and Increase Openness

By speaking openly with your team members regularly, you can check on how they are doing and reflect on any issues or stresses they might be facing whilst working. Encouraging openness in a group setting, can help promote open dialogues, positive attitudes and behaviours.

  1. Invest in a Mentoring/Buddy Scheme

In a recent survey conducted by Mind, 30% of staff felt like they couldn’t talk openly with their line manager. Investing in a mentoring or peer support scheme would allow colleagues to support each other outside the regular working structure and offers a great way to maximise the range of skills and experience held within your organisation.

  1. Increase Mental Health Awareness with Training

The way you manage and support employees who are experiencing mental health concerns can be key in shaping how they cope and recover. By providing staff with mental health and stress management training, employees could help spot the signs of arising issues and help support those who need it.

  1. Promote an Active Lifestyle

Studies have found that those who exercise regularly overall have better mental health. Participation in regular exercise can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. For those who work in an office environment, regular exercise can make a huge difference in creating a divide between work and personal time.

  1. Provide 24/7 Support to Employees with an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

 The Vivup EAP specialises in providing staff with help and support in times of need. With the additional stress of Covid-19, the heightened importance to support your staff’s mental health and wellbeing is more crucial than ever before.


What is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

An EAP is an employee benefit programme that assists employees with personal problems and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being. EAPs generally offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services for employees.

The Vivup EAP is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year including public holidays and bank holidays and includes a range of counselling support including:

  • 24/7 Telephone Support/Advice and Structured Counselling
  • Virtual Clinic & Online/Digital Counselling
  • Face to Face Counselling
  • Drop in Clinics
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy online workbooks

By providing these resources, staff are more likely to seek help when they need it the most.

The Vivup EAP offers employees access to confidential counselling and advice on a wide range of personal and work-related issues. Counselling comes from a team of employee support specialists and clinical staff, led by experienced clinicians with over 45 years of experience in NHS and EAP employee support.

Employers receive regular in-depth anonymised reports, a dedicated account manager and high-impact marketing, resulting in a model with above industry-average usage.


If you want to know more about supporting the health and wellbeing of your employees,  get in touch with a member of the Vivup team today by calling 01252 784540.