On Time to Talk Day, Andron’s HR Business Partner Hannah Richmond discusses the importance of building a workplace culture that prioritises mental health, her role as a Mental Health First Aider and how conversation can serve as a powerful tool for change.
Today is Time to Talk Day, the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness every year, it’s a day that reminds us of the importance of coming together to talk, listen and change lives. And even more so in the workplace.
Strong evidence suggests that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive – seeing increases in productivity by as much as 12%. On the other hand, poor mental health is a significant cause of absence. The Health and Safety Executive reported 35.2 million working days lost to work-related ill health in 2022/23, with stress, anxiety and depression accounting for almost 24 million.
At Andron, we take these facts seriously, and as a result, mental health and wellbeing are ingrained in our culture. We take a holistic approach to workplace wellbeing, with work-life balance, empowerment, purpose, open communication, and inclusion as the cornerstones.
From day one, employees have access to resources that provide guidance and support towards their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. This includes a free, confidential Access to Work service that offers professional mental health support, helping employees learn coping mechanisms, build self-care routines or access therapy.
Andron’s employee app, MyAndron, is also full of extra resources, tips, and tricks covering core topics from stress and anxiety relief to self-care so employees can build healthier habits and mental resilience.
Additionally, physical health problems significantly increase our risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa, so gym and lifestyle discounts are part of our employee benefits package. This benefit helps employees feel their best, look after their long-term health and achieve their fitness goals.
The power of conversation and mental health first aid
Another vital service here at Andron is our team of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) – a safe point of contact for employees to speak about their feelings in a non-judgemental environment.
I’ve been an MHFA since 2018, recently completing the refresher training with Andron last year. And through my role, I’ve seen the importance of conversation and the benefits of listening to and engaging with someone – a kind word can make a massive difference to someone’s day.
A lot of situations can dramatically turn around with good communication, and being an MHFA has reinforced that – often, people are just looking for someone to listen to them, and an essential aspect of the role is active listening whilst being empathetic.
We’re here to lend an ear to anything on their mind, whether health concerns or family issues and if necessary, signpost them to additional help.
Encouraging a culture of openness
Awareness and training around mental health can significantly affect whether employees and line managers have open and supportive conversations.
At Andron, Mental Health Awareness Training is provided to all our management to raise awareness of ill-mental health in the workplace (particularly stress, depression, and anxiety), provides tools and guidance for daily employee wellbeing management, and aims to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
We’re also taking the time to raise awareness and support employees going through complex issues that can affect mental health, like menopause. Our menopause policy and awareness training encourage openness and honesty, where managers and employees can discuss any problems associated with menopause and ensure the necessary support is known and offered to employees when needed.
The more open and honest we are with people, the more open they are. I believe everyone can contribute to a culture of openness; it just starts by taking some time to talk and open up communication with your colleagues. It’s amazing once we do how much we can learn from each other and realise that everyone struggles in some way with something; we just might not realise it.
However, it’s important to remember that everyone is different; for some, it might take some time to share how they’re feeling. Giving people the space and time to have a conversation is essential.
Walking the talk
I believe you can generate a lot of good in your life by making tiny changes – they all add up! If I’m struggling with my mental health, focusing on something which brings me happiness, like listening to a podcast, reading a book or going for a walk, can completely change my mindset.
To any of our employees reading this, I’d encourage you to make the most of our resources at Andron, reach out to an MHFA, or make an appointment with our Access to Work provider – it could make a difference in how you’re feeling!
So, this Time to Talk Day, why not take some time today to chat with a friend or colleague? Taking one small step could be a move in the right direction that you or they need.