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The Mental Health Pandemic and The Workplace

Many are questioning whether as a society we’re facing a new mental health pandemic.

Study after study after study has shown the effect that the pandemic has had and continues to have on mental health. 


The reality is that this is going to have an impact on every facet of our lives. Since we spend nearly a third of our time at work, that includes the workplace. 


At The Happiness Index (THI), we’re committed to supporting our people’s mental health. Having poor Mental Health is normal, and increasingly so. Part of our vision of #FreedomtobeHuman is to embrace the realities of being human, even if they’re uncomfortable. 


We thought we’d share 6 things we’re doing to support mental health and wellbeing in our workplace. It might inspire you to introduce similar programmes in your organisation, or perhaps it’ll inspire you to join our team…


1. True Leadership


At THI we’re lucky enough to have a truly inspiring leadership team who really lead from the front. They feel free to share their own struggles with mental health, whether that be a bad day, or a more serious diagnosis. This means that our whole team knows that their mental health will be taken seriously. 


By breaking taboos, everyone in your organisation will feel more able to share how they’re feeling. 


2. Wellbeing Day


We had our first wellbeing day in August 2021. Giving people time out during the working week to support their mental health in ways that suit them is a great tool to help your people help themselves. Our people team even made up little care packages with self-care ideas and treats which was a lovely surprise. 


Many companies are finding these days as helpful as we did, and they’re becoming more common and frequent. Whether you choose to have a wellbeing day once a quarter or once a year, this is a great benefit for your people. 


3. Access to Mindfulness


Anyone at THI who would like access to a mindfulness app can get a subscription, on us. We use Headspace, which our team loves, but you could pick an app that’s local to you, or which is available in your language. Speak to your team to find out what they would prefer. 


There are lots of alternatives available if your people don’t love apps. Live mindfulness classes, books, or sharing resources like colouring books or mindfulness prompts are also options. 


4. Full Flexibility


Not only do we offer our team flexible hours, meaning they can start and finish at a time that suits them and their lifestyle, we also encourage full flexibility. This means that if someone needs to take some time out for themselves in the middle of the day, they can make up the time whenever it suits them, no questions asked. 


This can be useful to different people in different ways. Some people find they need a break for a walk outside of typical lunch hours. Maybe someone needs to go to an appointment to support their mental health. Or maybe they want to go pick up their kids from school without feeling guilty. Full flexibility means that everyone can take care of themselves on their schedule. 


5. Professional Support


Sometimes self-care and mindfulness won’t cut it. Mental Health is very serious, so we make sure we have serious support for our people. We help our team access professional help if they need it. 


We use a care coins scheme which means that our people can access specialist therapy when they need to. Because a range of therapists are available it can be completely tailored to their needs. Plus, we can share mental health support with those closest to us if that’s going to be the most beneficial to us. There are many ways to support your people with professional help, so this is something that we recommend. 


6. Mental Health First Aiders


We have team members across our company who have completed the incredible two-day mental health first aid training. Everyone who has been on the course has found they have been able to utilise the content both personally and to support others.

Not only did it help our people to support each other, but it also showcases a tangible, monetary commitment to our team’s mental health. Actions speak louder than words.


7. Company-Wide Mental Health Training


In line with the previous point, our entire team was encouraged to attend a one-hour mental health training course which covered tips and tricks and terminology around mental health. This really helped us to consider what we could do to support our own mental health as well as that of others.

By having this training available to everyone, we were able to show company-wide commitment. Plus, the facilitator was able to encourage open conversations about mental health, helping to break down taboos.


8. Wellbeing Work Group


We know that every single Quokka within our organisation is different. This means that they’ll have different wellbeing needs and wants, plus different levels of comfort around these topics. This is why we’ve created a wellbeing workgroup made up of peers from across the organisation.

This group helps to plan wellbeing activities, as well as being a point of contact for those who’d rather speak to a peer than a manager about their mental health and wellbeing.


9. Mental Health at Work Commitment


It’s super important to us that we continue to commit to our team’s mental health every day. That’s why we’ve made the Mental Health at Work Commitment. This keeps us responsible for each other and our wider community when it comes to delivering on our promise to make mental health a priority within our organisation.


10. Always-On Listening


Finally, we know that work worries don’t always strike on schedule. That’s why it’s important to us that our people can provide anonymous feedback in real-time when they’re struggling. Our Employee Voice Survey enables us to listen to our team whenever and wherever they need us.

Sometimes our people provide actionable constructive feedback, and sometimes they just tell us they’ve had a tough day. Either way, we need to be able to hear them out and provide solutions where possible.

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Elle Whitehead-Smith

Content and PR Manager

"Elle is happiest when given plenty of puddings, popular novels and, particularly, perfect grammar."

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