Saturday 10th October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. In this blog post, Stirling Dynamics’ Human Resources Manager, Natasha Storey, discusses how the company is supporting staff mental health and wellbeing, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health issues touch many of us at one time or another. World Mental Health Day brings with it the opportunity to show support and talk about this subject openly. It could even be argued that this year’s Mental Health Day is more important than usual; months of lockdowns, uncertainty and loss of our normal freedom has certainly taken its toll on us all, which is why it is more vital than ever to prioritise mental health and wellbeing. Poignantly, this year’s theme, which has been set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘mental health for all’.
Supporting our Staff
Ensuring staff welfare has been our primary concern throughout this period, this applies equally to our employees now working from home and to the limited number of employees continuing to work in our office and workshop. We have maintained regular communication with employees, keeping them up to date on any changes and measures that we have put in place. We recognise the challenges that some of our employees continue to face working from home, whilst juggling childcare and any other responsibilities and how stressful this can be. In normal circumstances, we offer flexible hours anyway, but we have offered increased flexibility during this time, with employees choosing different working patterns, as well as reduced hours if needed.
“…we ran a Mental Health & Wellbeing series in July and the whole of this week in the lead up to World Mental Health Day, posting information and advice on different topics including mental health, stress and anxiety”
As well as the increased flexibility, all our employees have had weekly online check-ins with their Line Managers. This has allowed us to make sure everyone is okay and open the lines of communications if they do need some additional support. To increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and to help foster an open environment where people feel they can say if they are struggling, we ran a Mental Health & Wellbeing series in July and the whole of this week in the lead up to World Mental Health Day, posting information and advice on different topics including mental health, stress and anxiety. We also used this as an opportunity to remind our employees of the different support that is available to them through the company’s various resources. We also know the importance of social interaction for mental health and wellbeing, so the use of online video conferencing platforms has allowed employees to maintain the Stirling Dynamics’ team spirit through company-wide quizzes, team chats, quarterly briefings and Friday night drinks.
The link between mental health and fitness is well documented. Physical exercise can have huge benefits for our overall wellbeing and mental health. We have just finished a Stirling Dynamics Fitness Challenge, where we encouraged our employees to collectively walk, run, cycle or swim a total of 2,000kms over the month for charity. It was great to see so many people get involved and push themselves a bit more to reach our goal, and the hard work paid off as we covered 2,810kms! Challenges such as these help to bring us all together as a community as well as promoting healthy wellbeing. Additionally, as part of this week’s Mental Health Series, we have been reminding our staff of the importance of spending time outdoors, whether this is encouraging a ‘walk and talk’ at lunchtime, either on the phone or at a social distance, or remembering to take some time for wellbeing and exercise.
Our Private Medical Insurance provider, Vitality, has provided some great resources and additional mental health support. Additionally, our Employee Assistance Programme offers confidential support 24/7 to our employees and their partner/dependents.
We also offered our employees the opportunity to join a “Lunch and Learn” session on “Regulating Anxiety”. This informative session was run by a leading provider of mental and physical wellbeing services for workplaces, providing our employees with coping mechanisms to support them during the Coronavirus period as well as for the future. It was great to see the level of attendance at this session, at all levels within the business.
Importance of Mental Health and Wellbeing
Our employees’ wellbeing will always be our priority. We aim to create an open and friendly culture, allowing employees the flexibility they need to balance their work life and home life, and provide additional support where needed. We hope that our employees feel comfortable in saying when they are not okay, whether that be to their colleague/friend, Manager, HR or confidentially through the Employee Assistance Programme helpline. We also hope that by playing our part, we can help break the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace.
For more information on World Mental Health Day visit https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day and for tips on improving your mental health, visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/top-tips-to-improve-your-mental-wellbeing/