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Business News Wales Meets: Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background

I am Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind. I joined Mind in 2007 and, since 2010, I have led Mind’s campaigning for mentally healthy workplaces – playing a pivotal role in thought leadership to position mental health in the workplace as a key priority for employers and Government.

Together with my team, we aim to lead culture change through engagement with employers, health and safety professionals, HR audiences and Government on mental health in the workplace and back-to-work support for people with mental health problems. I also support networks of employers and stakeholders to share best practice and develop business-to-business peer support. I have worked in the disability sector since 2005 and previously worked for Mencap, the learning disability charity.

What is the Workplace Wellbeing Index and how does it benefit organisations who sign up?

The Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best policy and practice. It allows employers to find out where they are doing well and where they need to improve, in comparison to best practise and to other organisations.

Signing up to the index enables organisations to:

  • Find out what employees really feel about how their mental health is being supported
  • Gain public recognition for their commitment and focus on wellbeing and provides a platform for them to showcase all the great work they are doing.
  • Find out where they benchmark in comparison to peers and other organisations participating in the Index
  • Access best practice learning from other employers participating in the Index
  • Increase awareness of mental health throughout their organisation
  • Gain recommendations on improvements they could make

What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing mental health at work and how can organisations overcome them?

Challenge: Employees don’t necessarily talk to their managers about their mental health

Solution: Make wellbeing a key part of people management

The vast majority of employers have in place structures to provide staff with opportunities to improve performance and personal development, such as one-to-one meetings, targets, annual reviews and encouraging learning and development. As a result, many staff feel supported and are clear about their duties and responsibilities.

Organisations could improve their people management by ensuring these structures and conversations focus specifically on wellbeing more often, so that staff feel that their mental health and wellbeing is supported by their manager.

Challenge: Employees are learning poor working practices from their managers and senior leaders

Solution: Make managers role models for mental health

Many employers have initiatives that encourage positive wellbeing behaviours such as encouraging regular exercise, healthy eating and offering flexible work arrangements.

The next step is encouraging more staff to use them. One way to achieve this is by ensuring that managers are role models for positive behaviours. This would boost the number of staff who feel able to take sufficient breaks during the day, take sick leave when they need it and take time to recuperate after busy periods.

Challenge: Employees are not educated in mental health and there is a lack of awareness

Solution: Give staff the skills to support wellbeing

Staff could benefit from knowledge sharing and skills development mainly through mental health training and signposting to improve mental health literacy and awareness.

This means staff feel confident supporting colleagues and promoting wellbeing.

Organisations could improve by going beyond this to ensure staff feel they have the skills and understanding to be proactive managing and supporting mental health and wellbeing.

Challenge: Employers are not measuring their approach to employee wellbeing

Solution: Assess the impact of the mental health support provided

Employers are making efforts to provide support to their employees when they are experiencing mental health problems, including HR guidance and workplace adjustments.

Organisations could improve by ensuring that the support tools on offer are appropriate and beneficial to employees. This would help more staff feel more confident in the support offered by their employer and encourage them to use it when they need to.

What should we be teaching the next generation of employees when it comes to mental health?

  • We all have mental health – it moves up and down a spectrum from good to poor and it’s affected by a range of factors both in and outside of work
  • It’s good to talk – people can find it difficult to talk about their mental health but it helps to be open to about how you are feeling to help break down the stigma around mental health. Talking about your mental health can also lead to getting the support you need much sooner
  • Mental health is just as important as physical health – at school we are taught to look after our physical health, we also need to look after our mental health too. Have a look at the Five Ways to Wellbeing for some ideas of how to build your resilience.

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