Mental Health Awareness Week is happening from Monday 13 May to Sunday 19 May 2019 in the UK. Are you prepared? There are lots of tools and resources available online and I have a special guest post for you today.

The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what they do, the charity aims to find and address the sources of mental health problems. They have over 70 years of experience and expertise working towards a world with good mental health for all.

You don’t need to be based in the UK to take part, I believe mental health awareness should be ongoing every day of the year in our organisations. Do let me know in the comments below if you’re planning something.

Jo Hooper @MadandSadClub is a workplace mental health specialist, I invited her to share how to get ready for next week. I’ll hand you over…

How to prepare for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

As an IC pro are you running a campaign around Mental Health Awareness Week in your workplace, or thinking about what you could do to influence this agenda?  This article will help you get prepared. 

Where does mental health ‘sit’?

I recently spoke to a group of IC pros at a CIPR Inside event in London (pictured) about mental health at work and the role of Internal Comms in this agenda.

Some people asked where mental health sat in an organisation.

I’ve been looking into this a lot since I set up mad and sad club and the answer is – there is no standard! I’ve seen some organisations where it’s considered part of the health and safety agenda; some HR teams who take responsibility; and others where it doesn’t have a home, or is considered at the senior leadership table.

So what can IC pros do about mental health at work?

It can be a daunting prospect – trying to change how you talk about or tackle mental health in the workplace. It’s a complex, sensitive subject.

I’ve tried to break down the confusion into a simple, human model that can help you think about it.

  1. You need to understand how your people’s mental health can affect them in the workplace. My approach to this is to give you ‘insider insight’ from mad and sad club members (hi guys!)
  2. People – managers especially – need to feel confident talking about mental health at work. Recent CIPD research found that only 30% of managers who had received mental health training felt comfortable starting a conversation with someone about it. We HAVE to change this.
  3. Your organisation needs to act. Whether that’s reviewing the training in place for managers on mental health and bringing in new; adding extra support services; or considering the simple, free things – things like resources to help people understand how to use an EAP service, a one pager on how to start a conversation with someone, or putting together a guide for someone’s first day back at work after sick leave.

If you think about it this way, there is huge scope for internal comms teams to have an impact on mental health at work.

You can help people understand and talk about mental health.

Through year-round comms (awareness weeks have their place, but are just the start), you can begin to make people feel that they can be open. Through targeted comms to managers, you can help support them to have conversations with people they are worried about. Clear, simple guides to support available could be what makes someone take that step to talk to the EAP service.

And if you begin this journey of helping people to understand and talk about mental health at work, you can lead the charge in influencing the organisation to take action.

Keep it going

As I mentioned, awareness weeks are great reminders about issues like mental health, but…..we have mental health and mental health issues all year round.

So, this mental health week I challenge you to have a brainstorm in your team to come up with ideas for a mental health campaign in your workplace.

I’m not leaving you alone though, don’t worry. Here’s a free worksheet with factors you need to consider, diary dates and some creative ideas to get you started.

Let me know how you’re doing on Instagram or Twitter by tagging me (@madandsadclub) and using the hashtag #madinthewild – I’d love to see your ideas!

If you really want to dig into how to understand and talk about mental health at work, join me for my upcoming mad and sad class later this month.

Further reading about mental health via All Things IC

Post author: Jo Hooper.

Thank you very much Jo. Here are some more tools to help you…

Come and learn about Internal Comms with Rachel

Would you like to learn about Internal Comms? You’re welcome to join my All Things IC Masterclasses in London. I host sessions for professional communicators every month and offer a range of topics including Internal Communication, Strategic Internal Communication and Change Communication.

I also teach courses for Comms Consultants including Exploration for aspiring Consultants and Momentum for existing Consultants. Your investment is £599 +VAT and I keep the group size small to allow you the space and time to get tailored advice and guidance from your peers and I.

If you head over to my Masterclasses pages you’ll discover dates until the end of the year. Thank you to everyone who has chosen to train with me, I love teaching these sessions. I’m plotting something new from the Autumn, I’ll be able to share more soon I hope. I’m bursting to tell you, I will share as soon as I can.

I’m now taking bookings for October 2019 onwards for team Masterclasses in London. Discover how I can train your team.

Updating dates

Join me in Phoenix

On Monday I’ll be flying to America to be the opening keynote speaker at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Employee Communications Section conference. I’m having a 45 minute conversation with Chuck Gose @chuckgose on the Wednesday night, then opening the conference with a 45 minute talk on Thursday morning.

I’ve not travelled for years due to my young family, I’m looking forward to making this one-off trip to meet with 300 professional communicators across the pond.

You can follow the conversations using the hashtag #PRSAConnect on Twitter or grab one of the last remaining tickets.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 10 May 2019.

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