4 tips for internal comms pros to support mental health at work

Internal Comms tips & tricks

Kristina Ridgway
by Kristina Ridgway
4 tips for internal comms pros to support mental health at work

Mental health in the workplace 

Mental health and wellbeing aren’t new topics of discussion, but they are an important one. Just like our physical health, we all have mental health and need to look after it. According to Mind, 1 in 4 people are affected by mental health problems every year. So, what does this mean for businesses?   

A study conducted by University of Warwick found that addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by 12%, plus the idea of wellbeing in the workplace has risen to hold a higher importance recently, especially over the last year, with everyone thrown into uncertainty.  

Stress from working is one of the most common causes that negatively impacts a person’s mental wellbeing, with as many as 30% of staff feeling like they couldn’t be honest with their employer about how stress is impacting them.

What role does internal comms have to play in advocating mental health at work? Cited by PR week as a major challenge to internal comms professionals, The key is in coordinating efforts with human resources and understanding that although poor mental health will still exist, creating an environment that accepts and promotes wellbeing ultimately leads to a healthier and engaged workplace.  

What can be done to achieve this? Our top tips for championing wellbeing at work

Create a culture that supports your team to be open about mental health

Talk to your team about their thoughts on mental health, and what your company could be doing to better support wellbeing in the workplace. Everyone’s experience of mental health is different, asking your colleagues for their input is a great way of understanding their expectations. 

Launch your wellbeing strategy 

Set up a wellbeing strategy with HR to show that your organization is taking mental health seriously and will actively listen to employees with confidentiality. This is the perfect opportunity to lay out plans for both short-term, and longer-term communications for support. 

Things to consider when setting up your strategy: 

  • Organising professional support that’s freely available 
  • Training internal champions to offer their support to colleagues 
  • Employee perks that improve physical and mental health, like subsidized gym memberships  
  • Encouraging talking through dedicated programs and sessions. Regular and consistent communication is the key! 
  • Extra resources and training for managers  
  • Prioritizing a work-life balance through flexible working hours 
  • Running initiatives that everyone will want to get involved in. Crowdsource ideas from employees and make them part of the whole process 

Take the opportunity to make the most of national mental health awareness movements to support your strategy. For example, Vevox ran ‘Wellness Walks’ in line with this year’s Mental Health Awareness week theme, ‘nature’, encouraging everyone to take time out of their day to relax and appreciate their environment.      

Mental health wellness walks at workPhoto taken from Vevox Wellness Walks 

Create awareness and engage your team

Creating awareness of your efforts is essential in making positive wellbeing common practice in your workplace, so ensure your team is involved. 

Engagement has been challenging for everyone over the last year with the pandemic, but there are endless possibilities to create awareness amongst your colleagues, here are a few ideas: 

  • Giving presentations and running interactive polls to collect feedback
  • Encourage your team to freely share ideas and feelings through anonymous Q&A 
  • Work with mental health charities to provide programs and activities 
  • Inviting colleagues to share their stories (if they feel comfortable to) and eradicate stigma attached to mental health

Wellbeing & mental health word cloud poll

Listen and consolidate trust 

Listening non-judgementally is a major part of having a successful wellbeing plan. Your colleagues thoughts and interaction will help you evolve your wellbeing strategy to suit their needs best, and if they choose to disclose mental ill health it is important to respond appropriately to consolidate trust.

  • Show respect and understanding 
  • Respond according to the individual's personality and approach
  • Avoid making assumptions
  • Respect privacy and ensure confidentiality - unless a person is a risk to themselves or others
  • Encourage taking help from professional sources 
  • Endorse that it is okay to take time out for mental health 
  • Provide policies that protect mental health

Summary 

Championing mental health and keeping the conversation going consistently within your organisation is a great step in ensuring your organisation provides better support to it's employees. Your organisation may already be supportive of mental health but there is always more that can be done to advocate change and ensure we're giving the right kind of support to all employees across the board, wherever they are located or whatever their roles. 

To really drive mental health awareness, get your senior leadership onboard and make it part of your company culture. This way everyone can discuss the topic authentically and make everyone more empathetic and empowered. 

Why not join the internal comms mental health support LinkedIn Group? Also share your best practices for communicating mental health support and advice with us on LinkedIn by tagging @Vevox or using #vevoxvalues.

Additional resources:

Taking care of your staff

How to be mentally healthy at work

10 tips for running engaging hybrid meetings