Today is World Mental Health day and fittingly, this year’s theme is Workplace Wellbeing. I’m fortunate to work for an organisation that supports marking this occasion, as mental health conditions sit under the broader umbrella of disability.
Work have been 100% behind me putting on a World Mental Health Day bake sale (and some other team members suggested we make it a bake off to add an extra element of fun J ). They’ve also supported the idea of allocating a meeting room as a ‘Tea and Talk’ room for the day. Inside it we have a box for staff to make suggestions about how the organisation can improve all of our wellbeing in the office.
Independent Lives is the only place I have worked where there are posters about looking after our mental health up on the walls – we’re proud to be a Mindful Employer. This is reinforced by a section of our monthly internal communications email being dedicated to mental health. While I’ve been here I’ve also been given the green light to develop our resources and staff inductions to include greater focus on mental health.
Even more crucially, our workplace is hot on signposting us to Access to Work assessments and doing what they can to accommodate reasonable adjustments. Despite bringing up issues around my health in previous workplaces, I had not heard of Access to Work before I joined this organisation. It got me thinking, how many disabled employees actually have?
Your employer has to sign off permissions on recommendations from Access to Work, but this is essentially money available for disabled people, to get you the tools and help you may need to level the playing field for you at work. The only people I know aware of this are disability and mental health advocates/campaigners – or those working for health or disability charities. It makes me wonder, how come so few people it could help actually know about it?
Access to Work assess you, then make recommendations based on this about equipment that will help you – as well as resources. For example, I was given two sessions with a specialist work coach when I started here. I found this really helpful in adjusting to a new workplace and focusing on how to bolster my resilience as someone with mental health conditions.
It’s amazing to work somewhere that is accommodating, flexible and supportive of staff with mental health conditions. However, I think it’s sad that we are (in my experience) the exception to the rule. How many other employers take these steps?
If you feel your workplace could support you and others with mental health conditions more (and will be receptive), please feel free to share any of the above with your employer.
You could maybe even hold an event next time there’s a mental health awareness day or week, if you feel comfortable doing so. If your workplace marks days for other causes, it will make your case stronger for them supporting a mental health-related day.
Please share this on your Twitter and Facebook pages using #WorldMentalHealthDay so that other staff and employees can get ideas about how to talk about mental health in their workplaces.