Mental health awareness in the workplace

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On Mental Health Awareness day this week, it was reported that anxiety and depression among UK workers is up nearly a third in four years.

We all know that mental well-being is critical to creating a happy and productive workplace, but a quarter of the population every year are impacted by mental health issues. I certainly have first-hand experience in my personal life of dealing with a loved one with a mental health issue, but I’d guess that this is an issue that’s close to home for many people.

That’s part of the reason, as a business, that PSONA is passionate about removing the stigma around mental health, and offers practical support to our people. We approach this in small and larger ways, and sometimes even the smaller changes can make all the difference.

Spend time with your people and know how they tick

It isn’t rocket science, but it’s sometimes easy to get sucked into the work, rather than the people, and it’s my job as CEO, and my management team’s job, to spot the tell-tale signs of poor mental health. To be able to do this, it’s important to have a picture of the whole person, not just what they present at work 9 to 5.

We make sure we have regular check in sessions with our people, encourage open debate and dialogue and aim to spend a night out a month socially too. It’s amazing the nuances you pick up about people’s lives outside of the office. Once we spot an issue, we have learnt it’s best to act quickly and offer support, before it becomes a full-blown issue.

Start the conversation

Taking away the stigma associated with mental health and ensuring people feel comfortable to talk is key. To ensure that our people feel comfortable sharing their issues, we are also supporting a variety of events through the year, from Mental Health Awareness Week, Time to Talk Day, to National Stress Awareness Day. We’ve had some amazing feedback as a result and there is lot of active evidence that our people now feel freer to share how they are feeling.

Practical Support

But we have to walk the walk too. Our HR team have recently completed a “Mental Health In The Workplace” training programme, orchestrated by Mental Health Charity Mind, to support our people and line managers on mental health issues.

Bottom up Is Important too

As part of the Communisis Group we are also encouraging a bottom up approach and have created a Mental Health and Wellbeing Group. Our people, at all levels, meet regularly and act as a conscience of the business for mental health related issues, and suggest initiatives that might improve our offering from the top down. We have also committed to spending a minimum of 500 hours – a culmination of training, group meetings and on-to-ones – across the business every year to support the mental health of our teams.

We are absolutely committed to building awareness of Mental Health inside our organisation and I’m proud of the changes we have already made. Together – we can break the stigma.

Fiona ScottAbout the author

By Fiona Scott, CEO, PSONA. Having worked at some of the best known creative agencies in the UK, Fiona Scott joined PSONA at the beginning of 2016 with a remit to build awareness of the agency’s depth and breadth of offering.

Fiona has extensive experience of managing and growing creative direct and digital agencies including Elvis, Craik Jones and Kitcatt Nohr. Among a clutch of awards she has helped win, Fiona led a team that collected three DMA Grand Prixes for its work on Land Rover, as well as helping clinch Agency of the Year plaudits.

Along with collecting industry gongs, Fiona has worked with leading brands such as Sky, P&G, Unilever and Diageo, helping them through the growing pains of data and digital marketing.

In a break from the agency world a few years ago, Fiona even launched her own fashion brand, La Mack London, from scratch. The upmarket, luxury rainwear brand ended up being ordered by Harrods and was featured in glossy titles such as Tatler and Drapers. Bringing this entrepreneurial zeal to PSONA, Fiona is excited about the opportunity to build the UK’s most exciting customer engagement agency of the past ten years. Besides which, her name rhymes with the brand – it was obviously meant to be. Away from work, Fiona is a keen runner who can usually be seen being dragged on her daily trot by her enthusiastic dog Jack.

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