Mental Health Week (9-14th October) presents all of us with an opportunity to think about our own wellbeing and those we spend time with. The World Health Organisation theme for World Mental Health Day this year on the 10th of October is Mental Health in the Workplace.
We spend 50% of our waking hours in any given working day at work, equating to 35% of our waking hours over a 50 year working life. With so much of our time spent at work it is important to experience wellbeing at work. Smart employers are placing wellbeing at the heart of what they do but there are many not catering to their staffs needs in this area.
Martin Rogan, CEO of Mental Health Ireland said: “Our work has escaped the workplaces and often follows us home and on holidays via mobile phones and laptops. Employers are becoming more aware of the increase in stress and burnout within their workplaces resulting in more and more organisations develop wellbeing policies and programmes with employees to encourage open conversation about mental health in the workplace.”
Workplaces can use the Five Ways to Wellbeing as a starting point for developing a workplace wellbeing plan. These five steps have been researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation and have been proven to enhance wellbeing if practiced daily.
It is important that employees are involved in the planning and development of these events to encourage uptake from management and peers. Here are a few ideas every organisation can roll out during Mental Health Week and beyond.
1. Have a coffee break/ pizza evening in your office in the canteen/ common area
2. Have a ‘no phones in the lift’ policy to encourage people to chat with each other.
3. Create a Connect Board where staff can leave positive anonymous messages for others
1. Arrange a lunchtime mile – mapping out the route for staff to walk, jog or run
2. Develop a staff league table for steps taken each day/week
3. Invite a yoga teacher in to the company to teach the staff some easy yoga moves
1. Organise an event where staff share three interesting things about themselves.
2. Invite staff members to deliver a presentation on a hobby or interest they have.
3. Create a library section in the office with books and magazines on activities/ hobbies
1. Encourage all staff members to get a small plant for their desk
2. Provide a list of mindfulness/ meditation apps for staff to download – Headspace, 1GiantMind, SimpleHabit, Gratitude365 or Insight Timer
3. Encourage staff to pay attention to how they are feeling throughout the day and to notice when they may be stressed or anxious.
1. Arrange a ‘Volunteering Talk’ for staff to talk about the different volunteering they do
2. Ask staff to give to the Mental Health Ireland ‘Making Cents’ campaign – donating the cents from their wage directly to Mental Health Ireland. More info at mentalhealthireland.ie
3. Examine staff skills set and develop a list of area’s staff could assist charities – database design, web design, computer skills, social media, presentation skills, odd jobs etc
Martin Rogan said “We would like to see and hear about any wellbeing at work events taking place. These can be communicated on social media using the hashtag #mentalhealthweek17 and we wish everyone a successful Mental Health Week where you work, rest & play!”
Dublin will be host to Mental Health Ireland’s national event to celebrate Mental Health Week. The 5,000 Steps to Wellbeing Walk takes place in UCD Belfield Campus on the 14th October at 2pm.
Participants will learn about each of the five ways to wellbeing for every 1000 steps. The walk is open to all abilities and is buggy and dog friendly. Entry is €15 for adults and children go free. There will be refreshments afterwards for everyone. To sign up for the event log onto www.mentalhealthireland.ie.
Brent Pope is supporting the Wellbeing Walk. He said “It’s so important to get out into nature as often as you can. There are places like UCD’s Woodland Walk all over Ireland where we can go to practice the five ways to wellbeing. We take notice of our surroundings, connect with people along the way and with ourselves, we are being active by walking, learning about nature and our surrounds and finally we are practicing self-care by giving this time to ourselves”.
Head of Communications & Fundraising, Mental Health Ireland
087 795 7717
Nationwide Mental Health Week activities can be found here.