Thursday is Time to Talk Day, an event that’s being run across the country to encourage people to talk openly about mental health issues. It seemed like an ideal time to hear from Martin Hopcroft, our Head of Safety, and Amber Kelly, Engagement, Learning and Talent Director, about what we’re doing to promote wellbeing within the business.
Why is wellbeing such a topical issue for us at the moment?
Colleagues are the driving force of our business and if you’ve read ‘Our Post Office’ you’ll know that we’re committed to providing a working environment which promotes and maintains a positive health, safety and wellbeing culture for everybody. It goes without saying that healthy people are happier, more engaged and more productive.
We’ve very much been listening and responding to feedback from colleagues. It was clear from the last engagement survey that we need to do more to improve awareness of the initiatives, support and resources that are available to promote and foster wellbeing, and to make them easier to access.
We’ve started to do this by working with our stakeholders and trade unions to develop a Health and Wellbeing Policy that will encourage and facilitate working practices and services that support colleague health and wellbeing. At the same time we’ve just launched a Wellbeing Portal, that acts as a one-stop-shop for everything we’re doing on wellbeing. And of course we’ve had initiatives such as Mental Health in the Workplace workshops for managers, and have been developing a national network of Mental Health First Aiders.
Events like Time to Talk Day are vital too – they help shine a spotlight on wellbeing issues and get people talking about them.
So where does Time to Talk Day fit in?
Mental health problems affect more than one in four of us and they’re the largest cause of absence, yet many people are still afraid to talk about them. If you’re experiencing mental health problems, not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. By getting people talking openly about mental health, we can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, help recovery and take some of the stigma out of something that affects us all.
It’s Time to Talk Day on Thursday 1 February and here at Post Office we’re holding events in Chesterfield, Bolton and Finsbury Dials in conjunction with Mind. At FD we’re also holding a lunchtime learning session which will feature director Mark Davies talking about his own experiences. We’ll be circulating Team Talk material to DMBs and Supply Chain so they can take part too over the coming days and weeks.
Do get involved. It’s a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health - to talk, to listen, to change lives.
What specific things are we doing to support colleagues’ mental health?
Colleagues will see us talking about mental health issues in our communications on a regular basis – we want to educate all colleagues about mental health issues and the importance of recognising and dealing with the signs of stress. Resources can be accessed through the new People Hub and Wellbeing Portal and advice and guidance is available through Employee Assistance (Help EAP).
Whilst continuing to support campaigns such as Time to Talk Day and Mental Health Week, we’ve also successfully piloted workshops for managers to help them to spot the signs of mental health issues in the workplace and to help them understand how they may be able to support their teams and signpost individuals to appropriate support. The feedback has been fantastic from those who’ve attended. There are more of these running throughout January, February and March.
Occupational health support is available for all Post Office colleagues, as well as confidential support from Employee Assistance (Help EAP) online or by phone.’re also in the process of training about 50 Mental Health First Aiders to provide proactive support to colleagues across the business. There are plans to increase this number over the next few months.
What does the Mental Health First Aider role actually involve?
We’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks as we prepare to launch them formally but essentially they’ll be advocates of positive mental health in the workplace. They’re being trained to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide colleagues towards support.
They’re not there to act as therapists, but we we’re giving them an in-depth understanding of mental health issues, practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health distress, and the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress in a non-judgemental way. The training provides the knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether that’s self-help resources, through the support available from the business, the NHS, or a mix.
Our Mental Health First Aiders will be attending some further workshops imminently to discuss their role and we’ll be launching the network properly in the next few weeks.
Where can colleagues find out more about the support available?
Colleagues can register and access our health & wellbeing site 24/7 from any device: www.postoffice-wellbeing.com, which provides a wealth of Wellbeing information and guidance.
Booklets and flyers will also be distributed to workplaces and we encourage colleagues to look out for these over the next couple of weeks.