Starting the conversation

How do you start a conversation about mental health with someone you suspect might be struggling with theirs?

We teamed-up with our charity partner, Mental Health UK, to run some introductory sessions designed to help our colleagues start those potentially tricky conversations with each other.

The sessions focused on understanding what mental health is, the importance of supportive conversations and the do’s and don’ts of how to approach them. They also provided colleagues with a list of questions to help start and maintain a discussion and pointers on how to behave.

"I’m fine"

“We want to support our colleagues as much as we can,” said Skipton’s Sustainability Lead, Abi Wallbank. “That means having a robust well-being plan in place and providing resources that give colleagues a platform to talk and learn new skills.

“Having this basic understanding of mental health increases our level of self-awareness, so we can understand what signs to look for in others. Sometimes that means venturing into uncomfortable territory, especially if someone’s already said they’re fine.”

What colleagues said

As a result of the sessions some colleagues said they felt less isolated, while for others the sessions raised awareness of how widespread mental health issues can be.

“The forum allowed a safe way to express personal views, as well as get advice from other colleagues through their own experiences.”

“Nice to hear and see that others thought about the various topics/questions raised, as it made me feel like I wasn't alone in being a little nervous about talking to people about these things.”

“The level of engagement was extremely positive and shows how widespread matters can be surrounding mental health.”

“This was a great introduction that highlighted many ways I can improve conversations with others. It also helped me with ways to consider how I speak with my own manager about my own mental health.”

Providing colleagues with confidence

  • 77% of colleagues said they felt more confident about starting a conversation after the session.
  • 85% were keen to develop their knowledge of mental health issues even more.
  • 92% said they’d recommend the session to other colleagues

We can all play a part

“At Mental Health UK, we believe everyone should have the information, education and support they need to thrive in all parts of their life, including at work,” said Flora Bannerman from Mental Health UK.

“Building greater understanding of mental health and how to support one another is a crucial step in enabling colleagues to manage their own mental well-being and create more mentally healthy environments across the teams they work in and the communities they serve".

“A few simple tips that will help us all move forward together are - be open to engaging in conversations about mental health, show empathy and listen non-judgementally.”

So far, we’ve donated £220,000 to Mental Health UK through our partnership, which is due to end in December 2021.

If you’d like to learn how to look after your own mental health and support others, visit mentalhealth-uk.org.

The online community, Clic, is a place where people can access peer support, information and Q&A online events. It is managed 24/7 to help anyone at any time, should they need urgent support. Visit www.clic-uk.org.

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