We work in the area of mental health for one of our clients, which means we can list off the names of prominent thinkers in the field, the main medical meetings, and the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for depression. But, what can be harder to talk about is when someone in our close-knit team is affected by poor mental health.
It’s not uncommon for people working in our industry to suffer from mental ill health – research conducted by the PRCA in partnership with PRWeek revealed that 59% of PR and communications practitioners had suffered from mental ill health over their careers.
It’s easy to see when someone is not physically in the office due to ill health – their seat remains empty, their computer off – but being present at work physically does not necessarily mean being present at work mentally and being well. As it can often be difficult to broach this topic in the workplace, we decided to enroll our Director, Deborah Corcoran, on a two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course.
We wanted to take a proactive approach to the mental wellbeing of the team. Using the skills Deborah learned at the MHFA training course, we’ve had training on how to be aware of our own mental health and that of others, as well as how to spot when things aren’t quite right. Line managers will undergo training on how to include a check-in on mental wellbeing during catch ups with their linees and encourage open conversations around mental health.
Just like a first aid kit stocked with plasters and bandages, the MHFA training has provided us with another type of first aid kit equipped for mental health. This mental health first aid kit allows us to be aware of potential stressors and manage them as they happen, thus leading to a healthier mental wellbeing within the team.
This increased awareness and empowerment, due to the introduction of self-help strategies, helps to maintain a positive, trusting and friendly work environment. It ensures we are able to manage mental health as much as our physical health, having open conversations and a cup of tea where needed, and ultimately it helps us to keep on top of work and deliver for our clients.
In the next few months we’ll be looking to enhance employee benefits around mental health. In our never ending quest to measure the changes that we deliver, we will also look to evaluate the longer-term and wider benefits of the MHFA training in the workplace, though its short-term impact is already evident.