Normalising mental health in the workplace

By Claire Rowan

Our Director of Global Health and Wellbeing, Claire Rowan, reflects on her last 12 months at the company and how raising awareness around mental health at work is high on her agenda.

We’re all unique and diverse in our own distinct ways and, at Centrica, this is exactly why we’re committed to placing diversity and well-being at the top of our agenda. Everyone has physical health all the time, and mental health is no different – it doesn’t come and go – it’s with us all the time. Holistic wellbeing remains at the heart of our messaging, a key part of which includes raising awareness and normalising mental health in the workplace.  

This time last year, we were in the early phases of launching our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) network – with the aim of having 200 MHFAs in place across the business by the end of the year, trained and ready to support their colleagues in conversations about mental health. By the end of 2018, we had surpassed that aim with around 300 MHFAs in place, globally.  There have undoubtedly been some learnings along the way and we’re continually looking to refine the coaching and support available for the team, as well as raising their visibility among their colleagues.  

I truly believe there is no one size fits all solution and we have seen an increase in requests for MHFA training and mental health awareness training.  As such, we have developed several resources to make sure all employees know what support is available to them. These include; e-learning modules for employees and managers, a one-page document outlining all the existing support available; and a very simple sticker displaying contact details for 24x7 mental health support. 

In addition, Mental Health Awareness training for line managers is being delivered to give them the opportunity to build their confidence in having mental health related conversations in the workplace. We shouldn’t, and can’t, underestimate the importance of managers feeling confident and able to talk openly about mental health with their teams, especially as we encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own well-being.

During May, and beyond, our #KeepTalking focus will embrace Mental Health Awareness Week with a host of global activities and news articles designed to support continuing conversations around Mental Health. Of all things in the wellbeing space, this is one of the key areas that appears to resonate the most amongst our population at all levels and we will persist in pushing on the door that most definitely remains open.