13/06/2019 Way To Wellness: Our simple mental health initiatives making a big difference
As an integral part of our agency Wellbeing Team and a Mental Health Ambassador, I have really enjoyed working with everyone at Way To Blue not only to raise awareness of everyday work and social issues surrounding mental health but also strengthen a culture where our mental health events and initiatives get the time and attention they deserve.
With fantastic support from our leadership team, our goal is to help improve, acknowledge and ensure that our people feel comfortable, supported and able to discuss their mental wellbeing in the workplace. It is simple and very important!
Anxiety is seen as a buzzword being used alongside mental health, which is being treated as part of a trend of discussions across the media. However, as we all see and know, mental health issues cover a diverse spectrum of conditions, such as social anxiety, stress, depression, bipolar, to occupational burn out and the list goes on.
Working in a thriving and busy global communications agency, there are unsurprisingly many elements to our jobs that can impact mental health. As an agency and as individuals we are passionate about having regular events in our calendar to give valuable time and headspace to everybody in tackling busy agency life.
We know the strains and pains your work life can have on your mind and body. So, here are just three of the initiatives we have put in place over the last 18 months at our London HQ…
Monday Meditation: Take Ten at our mindfulness sessions…
We run a weekly group meditation session for anyone across our network to dial in or attend. It is a 10-minute guided meditation session for those new to meditation and those who just need to clear their mind before lunchtime at the beginning of the week.
Monday Meditation encourages time away from screens and offers advice on how to keep a clear head throughout the day at work. Attended by all levels of the business, our CEO Adam Rubins is a big believer in mindfulness, so he is often amongst those 8-10 people who join regularly. We have also had dial-ins from our Munich office and the feedback is that it really helps!
Tea & Talk: Time to catch up about more than work…
Any time set aside that we can use to discuss more than work is good for us, so we have taken this initiative set up by the Mental Health Organisation (MHO), simply called Tea & Talk. We are happy to report, it really works. Tea & Talk encourages people to come together and discuss topics picked out of a hat as outlined by the MHO over a cup of tea and a few biscuits (because why not…?) This provides our people who work in different teams across our range of disciplines who may not sit together to take 15 minutes out of their day every few weeks to chat to each other about how they feel, what they may be struggling with and seek life advice.
Tea & Talk goes beyond what you did at the weekend into how to support and understand one another’s stress and pressure points and then manage them together. It was set up with the understanding that talking helps relieve the mind, encouraging those suffering to open up, no matter the conversation.
We often theme our Tea & Talk sessions around topical events and occasions such as stress in the workplace in line with April’s Stress Awareness Month where we made a series of pledges to honour and so on.
Self-Care Library: Visit and learn new coping mechanisms
Late last year, we dedicated a section of the office shelf space to home a few self-care books… now there is a growing library of go-to guides and easy-to-digest self-care books where people add, grab in their lunch break and borrow to learn a little or a lot. It’s pretty official now because we even have library stamp and log book!
Like everything else we do, the Self-Care Library is there to help anyone who needs a little guidance on how to look after their mind and body. My personal favourite are the ‘Self-Care for Social Media’ tips from the book ‘Self-Care for the Real World’, written by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips – small and simple bitesize pieces of advice such as ‘take conscious phone breaks’ and ‘no phones when you’re eating’ – things we should all stick to more.
These now embedded and regular initiatives we have mentioned are a simple yet very effective way to make the most of people’s time and efforts. We’ve seen a huge growth in Way To Blue’s dedication to people’s wellbeing and as part of a dedicated Wellbeing Team we send out monthly newsletters to our global network and have a dedicated inbox for anyone to reach out to should they need it.
Making small changes that do not disrupt work and actually improve people’s productivity is what we have managed to create at Way To Blue. The bonus for me is that it provides an incredibly valuable resource and outlets to allow everyone to help themselves and feel supported the whole day through, every day.