World Mental Health Day: helping employees thrive in the workplace

Written by Martin James Admin

Here at the Martin James Network, the health and wellbeing of our employees is a key priority. Human beings are the lifeblood of any business and we believe that by connecting people to a purpose, supporting mental health and giving everyone a voice, we can all thrive in the workplace.

So, ahead of World Mental Health Day on this Saturday (10th October), we wanted to take a moment to recognise some of the incredible mental health projects and initiatives happening within the network at the moment.

Unlocking silos with the TalkOut app

Before lockdown, we had been developing and testing an app to help unlock silos, build communities, and keep employees across the globe connected. Lockdown amplified our People team’s existing belief that connecting digitally would boost employee engagement and mental health. We knew that the key to success was to breathe a fresh new approach through our people in the form of a digital solution – and that’s where the TalkOut app was born.

As well as being used to share internal news and company updates, the app allows colleagues to communicate in real time, in a way that is best suited to them. They can chat to groups, individuals, or whole communities all from the one platform.

Crucially, at the heart of the app, is a system that offers employee mental health support through useful resources and advice. And soon, the app will allow individuals to speak to a counsellor via a specialist chat function too.

Campaigning for better workplace mental health

Team members at our mental health organisation, TalkOut Group, have been busy campaigning and urging the government to prioritise employee mental health at this difficult time. According to TalkOut Group’s latest research, over half (56%) of UK workers haven’t received any mental health support or advice from their employer since March.

On top of that, over a third (35%) of employees said that their mental health is worse now compared to before the pandemic. And just over half (51%) of respondents said they have felt uncertain about the future of their job.

The TalkOut Group has been busy speaking to the media – including the BBC and Forbes – and explaining why mental health in the workplace can longer be ignored.

Sharing mental health stories

At a time when supporting employee mental health has been crucial, we’ve increased webinars and online training for managers and employees across the business. We’ve also been sharing mental health resources so people can find out more or get further help if they need it.

Our People team have launched a range of initiatives to boost morale and wellbeing, including Mindful Mondays, and Wellbeing Wednesdays where key people across the business are interviewed and talk openly about their own mental health experiences. To simulate the social aspects of office life as much as possible, we’ve also regularly held virtual hangouts, pub quizzes and birthday celebrations for our employees.

Keeping our teams fighting fit

When the pandemic first hit and we were advised to work from home, a network employee – also a qualified personal trainer – set up a home workout group on Facebook. Created to help keep employees motivated and mentally fit whilst being confined to their homes, the HIIT and cardio workouts were uploaded live each day.

The workouts are still being streamed to this day and people outside of the network are even joining in!

Supporting working parents

With so many working parents having to look after their children during lockdown, another network employee created a Facebook group featuring recommendations and activities to keep kids occupied, home-schooling tips and positive news stories to lift parents’ spirits.

The group, called Mini Tribe Adventures, now has over 4.7k members and the founding employee made it onto local TV talking about why she set up the group.