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Top tips for Mental Health awareness week – 18th – 24th May 2020

Have you started planning yet for your mental health awareness week events? What with the world in turmoil, it might have fallen way down on your list of items to do. But, with the very real risk of mental health illnesses increasing as an off shoot to this virus, now, more than ever, we need to switch the focus onto people.

Firstly, you should NEVER be too busy to think about mental health. If you aren’t doing anything with it, now is the time.

I firmly believe that every day is a mental health awareness opportunity – but I get that not all companies work this way just yet and that week provides a great opportunity to really put mental health into the spotlight!

The theme set out this year is Kindness.  Note;  the original theme was sleep, but in light of Covid-19, the theme has been purposely changed to kindness.  It is very topical but the reality is that you can be much broader than this for your week. If you can do things inline with the theme, great, if you can’t, don’t fret!

Where we will be and how we will be operating come May 18th, we don’t yet know. As we get closer, things may become a little clear, but considering the unknown, the suggestions can be done either virtually/remotely or face to face with social distancing if we are at a stage that that is possible.

Accessibility to resources

The first thing is to really promote accessibility to resources, nationally and locally, as well as what is available in house.  Put a ‘how to’ guide together that outlines when someone might need to reach out for support.  Don’t just consider adult mental health & wellbeing, but also children and elderly.  Many challenges extend into family life and people may welcome the holistic help and support.

Bring people together

Yes, the novelty of the Friday drinks may have worn off, but connecting people together is so important for our wellbeing.  In fact, relationships tops everything else when it comes to mental health.  Look to bring people together to share challenges and to talk about successes.  Have a forum where people get to voice their thoughts and feelings.  You can do this however you choose – small groups, large groups – whatever works for you and your team.

You should be having regular 121’s with your team members already, but if you aren’t, get them scheduled in.  Here’s some suggestions on getting the conversation started:

  • Tell me how things have been recently…
  • How are you looking after yourself?
  • What have you been doing to promote your own wellbeing? 
Engage your staff

Ask your team to make suggestions on how they look after their own wellbeing or are kind to themselves. Collect all of these together and make a montage of the suggestions.  Share it and put it in a central place, like your extranet so it is visible.  When you get back into the office, you can make it a staple of your environment to remind of you the ways in which we look after ourselves.

Gratitude Board / Kindness

Ask your team to share messages of gratitude for their colleagues or for things that have happened in the week.  Share the messages publicly and spread the messages of gratitude.

Alternatively, you can create a central document and encourage people to write down 3 things they are grateful for every day. It can be totally anonymous.  Acknowledging things that you are grateful for every day can be really beneficial to our wellbeing.

Equally, writing messages of kindness for colleagues is such a wonderful thing to write, and also be on the receiving end of it.

Random acts of kindness

This is my favourite thing to do! You could send each of your staff something that they can pass on as a random act of kindness.  To a neighbour, a friend, a colleague – whoever.  It can be a box of chocolates, it could be a bottle of wine, it could be a bunch of flowers – whatever it is, send it to them, as part of a random act of kindness and encourage them to participate it.   

Promote wellbeing

Get running some practical sessions that encourage people to participate and try different ways to promote positive wellbeing.  Things you can consider are physical exercise, maintaining a nutritious lifestyle, mindfulness. You can use YouTube to access some great sessions already – or you can look to professionals in this space to help you deliver these. Do them live – do them all together.

People can sign up to sessions and can be encouraged to dip in and out with the ones they would like to try.

Mental health sessions

Creating greater understanding and awareness of mental health is really important.  Research tell us that the greater the awareness, the greater the chance people will seek help when they need it.  So focus on a series of mental health sessions. These can be bitesize sessions, no longer than an hour and if you have a selection of them across the week, people can sign up to the ones that most suit them. Consider things like:

  • Creating a culture of kindness
  • Mental health awareness – recognising the signs of symptoms
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Developing resiliency

Whatever you do, do SOMETHING to raise awareness, get the conversation started, engage your employees, support your team.

Get in contact with [email protected] to explore a selection of mental health virtual sessions available.

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