Lottie Sharland14 Jun 2019
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5 Companies Leading The Way In Mental Health Support At Work

When did you last call in sick to work? That migraine, toothache or ear infection might seem all too real to you but when making the phone call to your manager there’s always an inevitable feeling of guilt that you’re being weak and should really just soldier on. And that’s when you actually have physical symptoms to prove you’re ill.

But what about when the illness in question is mental, would you feel empowered and justified in telling your boss and seeking support? And as a manager, do you feel confident your employees would be comfortable talking to you and that your company has the adequate support in place?

Last year the Time to Change campaign found that mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee, per year. Things are changing though, and there is a collection of companies in the UK who are leading the way in mental health support with innovative benefit packages and support systems. Below are 5 companies across different industries who are setting a fantastic example.

innocent drinks

innocent drinks have a reputation as being a fun place to work; anyone that’s seen their Instagram account, or even just visited their website, will know that they don’t take themselves too seriously and that their staff are central to their brand. And it seems this isn’t just a PR stunt, on closer inspection innocent really do seem to care about their employees and pay particular attention to supporting their mental wellbeing.

They do this by offering a range of perks that indirectly ease their employees work stresses, including flexible working, free breakfast and a complimentary gym membership to encourage workers to stay fit and healthy in their mind and body.

innocent encourage their employees to join their free yoga club and have mental health aids and resources available to all their staff. This includes a confidential employee assistance programme, where anyone who works at innocent can talk to someone 24 hours a day.

Speaking to stylist.co.uk, a spokesperson from innocent said: “Just like physical health, we all have a state of mental health. Sometimes it will be in a great state, and sometimes not so great.”

“At innocent we understand that mental health problems and stress can affect anyone – our aim is to create a work environment that supports mental health and enables people to support their team too. We believe that no stigma should be attached to mental health. We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different, so we pledge that the individual’s mental health needs will always matter to us.”

And innocent go further than just stating their support; in addition to advocating the above they aim to create a work environment that supports mental health and run two training courses aimed at promoting better understanding of mental wellbeing. One is for everyone to improve general awareness and one is tailored specifically for managers, to ensure they are equipped with sufficient knowledge and skills to support their team.

innocent has also partnered with mental health charity Mind, inviting the team to Fruit Towers and discussing how innocent can better their support staff.

EY

EY aims to treat mental and physical health on equal footing and put a lot of emphasis on employee perks and initiatives to help remove any stigma surrounding it.

One example of this is EY’s initiative to share stories of their own people, from all areas and levels of seniority within the business, talking openly about their own experiences of depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.

Kate Wright, an Executive in their Financial Services, IT Risk and Assurance team says: “EY’s truly diverse and inclusive culture has empowered me to be completely transparent about my Bipolar disorder and no longer be embarrassed or ashamed. To help me manage bipolar, the firm’s flexible working policy means I’m able to attend weekly appointments and work remotely three days a week. This support was offered without hesitation and with complete empathy, enabling me to continue working whilst getting better."

For the last two years EY has been running Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses and have just reached a key landmark with 500 EY people now attending the two day course.

In addition, EY provide all employees that have been with them for more than 3 to 5 years with private healthcare, free health assessments and occupational health and rehabilitation consultancy. As well as this, EY also has a free online health assessment and 24 hour confidential counselling service that can be used by both employees and their families.

Regular exercise is recognised as aiding good mental health, and employees at EY are encouraged to cycle to work and take part in office sports teams.

Barclays

Barclays instigated their This Is Me campaign to challenge the “stigma around mental health at work and aim to break the culture of silence by supporting people to tell their own stories.” Inspired and fronted by the company’s disability network Reach, This Is Me has been extensively supported at Barclays with employees joining forces to record their own mental health challenges.

So far, over 200 employees have shared personal stories which they have recorded on film and in writing and used in manager training and policy reviews. Barclays have also signed onto Time to Change, a pledge to support employees facing these challenges, making an external commitment to normalize mental health issues.

Iceland

According to the 2014 ‘The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For’ survey Iceland ‘can’t be beaten for its levels of Wellbeing’ and was ranked as one of Britain’s Best Big Company to Work For. The following year, as well as earning a special Lifetime Achievement Award to mark five years in the Top 10 Best Big Companies, Iceland received a special award for Wellbeing with the Sunday Times writing, ‘a holistic approach to wellbeing across the company sees managers close enough to their people to be treated as confidantes in tough times’.

Iceland encourages its staff to have a good work/life balance and they recognise that employees in a customer facing position can sometimes be exposed to confrontation, so they make an effort to provide support in these situations and offer mental-health support for anyone struggling with work related stress.

Accenture

Accenture continually tops the list as one of Britain’s Best Big Company’s To Work For and when you look at their attitude to mental health it’s clear to see why. Accenture has a holistic health and wellbeing programme that incorporates physical and mental health and focuses on awareness and prevention. It is part of a broader programme that is designed to create a culture where employees can bring their whole self to work.

The company provides their employees with a number of mental health related programmes, including a free 24/7 confidential counselling service which is available to all employees through Bupa; online awareness training; access to an anonymous, professionally managed chat environment; and mindfulness and sleep improvement apps.

In addition, the company has appointed a leaded in mental health for each area of its business in the U.K and their HR professionals receive special mental health training. Their Mental Health Allies program has received much support and now has been joined by just over 15% of Accenture’s UK workforce, this equates to 1,700 trained Mental Health Allies across the business. To join the program employees must participate in a half-day classroom-based training session in which they improve their understanding of mental health challenges, increasing their confidence and ability to address common mental health challenges which may affect people in their team.

Felling inspired by how these companies are addressing mental health in the workplace? To start now, click here to read our blog on How To Improve The Mental Health Support In Your Work Place in which we’ve listed articles, links and ideas to for you and your employees.

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