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Reflecting on our mental health approach during Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of mental health issues and the steps we can all take to help address them. So, I felt that this week is a good time to reflect on VIVID’s approach to mental health for our employees.

Our approach so far

We signed up to the Time to Change pledge in October 2018, to demonstrate our commitment to changing the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace. We chose Time to Change because it fitted so well with the culture we were trying create. We wanted to challenge the stigma of mental health, in the same way we challenge the stigma of social housing; we wanted to provide our people with the tools and information to support their own mental health in the same way we support our customers to live their own lives.

Since then, we’ve launched a number of initiatives including:

  • Introducing 87% - an app that uses wellbeing data to help us make informed decisions about how to improve organisational health  
  • Introducing Shout - a free 24/7 crisis text line  
  • We’re providing extensive signposting information, showing people where to go for more help, advice and tips, including drop-in information sessions and training for managers
  • Introducing our “Stigma Busters” - a dedicated group of colleagues who volunteer their time to co-ordinate all of our activities to help people improve their mental health
  • And perhaps most importantly, we’re encouraging our people to share their own mental health stories on our internal communication channels, to keep the conversation going and to show people that they’re not alone.

So, has this made a difference? Undoubtedly yes. If we look at any of our metrics – absence levels, sickness levels, and responses to our employee engagement surveys - these have all shown a big improvement from 4 years ago. And our approach won us the CIPD People Management Awards Best Health and Wellbeing accolade in September 2020. And the work we did around mental health during the pandemic proved invaluable in helping our people navigate through COVID.

Next steps

However, does this mean we have cracked it? No, there will always be work needed to support people with their mental health challenges, but our approach needs to remain constant – helping people to help themselves. So, what’s next.

We want to evolve our approach making use of an initiative called “My Whole Self”, which has been developed by Mental Health First Aid England. The initiative is about allowing people to be “themselves” at work, which fits well with our approach to diversity and inclusion. And more specifically, the focus is on recognising that people may have issues outside of work that might impact them in work, and that by encouraging them to bring their “whole self” to work, we can try and provide support that helps them to manage and resolve their challenges. This isn’t different to what we did before, but rather, builds on it.

We wanted to challenge the stigma of mental health, in the same way we challenge the stigma of social housing; we wanted to provide our people with the tools and information to support their own mental health in the same way we support our customers to live their own lives.

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Say ‘hi’ to Alina, who’s joined VIVID as a Triage Administrator through the #Kickstart programme. We’re taking part… https://t.co/1R9zvt92mS

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