“Surviving or Thriving?” is Mental Health Foundation’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 14 May 2017). With just a few weeks to go many employers will be planning wellbeing activities for the month of May to help raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma. If you’re too busy surviving and need some ideas for your workplace wellbeing activities read on.

Based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing many are low cost and easy to set up and can be spread out over the month of May and beyond.

Connect
Social relationships are vital for promoting wellbeing. Promote different ways to make connections at work:

• Encourage face to face (or even telephone) conversations instead of sending an email.
• Organise a group coffee break (maybe use the Time to Talk Pub Quiz to dispel some myths about mental health)
• Promote lift shares for journies to and from work

Be active
Regular physical activity is known to improve mental health and reduce rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. It doesn’t need to be a full work out for you to feel good. Here are a few ideas to try at work:

• Promote lunch time walks, maybe in groups so people can ‘connect’ as well.
• Encourage people to take the stairs where possible
• Organise a yoga or Tai Chi class

Take notice
Living in the moment and taking notice enhances wellbeing. Heightened awareness enhances self-understanding and allows us to make positive choices based on our own values and motivations. Activities to think about:

• Have a ‘clear your clutter’ day
• Lunch time group nature walk (enables people to connect, take notice and be active!)
• Promote the use of meditation and mindfulness apps like Headspace and Calm

Learn
Continued learning increases self-esteem and encourages social interaction. Goal setting, associated with adult learning, is known to achieve higher levels of wellbeing.

• Set up an information stall
• Run workshops – Resilience and Wellbeing, Recognising Mental Health in the Workplace, Bullying and Harassment Awareness, Time    Management, Money Management, Laughter Workshops, Singing Workshop, Mindfulness Workshop
• Set up a staff book club
• Include articles about mental health and wellbeing in your staff newsletter or intranet

Give
Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing and act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
• Desk drop – Leaving literature on colleagues’ desks at the end of the day means it is the first thing they see in the morning and can encourage conversations.
• Encourage volunteering and community activities.
• Consider fundraising for a mental health or local charity.
• Make an organisational pledge to end mental health stigma
• Join the Thunderclap for Mental Health Awareness Week

You can download a free resource pack from Mental Health Foundation here.

However you choose to get mental health on to the agenda, you can use an event as an opportunity to:
• Get people talking about mental health and thinking about any stereotypes they hold about mental health problems and people who experience them.
• Bring people with different experiences of mental health together in an environment of mutual respect.
• Provide information about looking after your wellbeing and how to access support. Get people to talk about what has helped them.
• Inspire people to work together to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

If you have an Employee Assistance Programme read my blog about working with your EAP provider to support you mental health wellbeing strategy.

We can deliver training and workshops in your workplace on Recognising Mental Health in the Workplace, Bullying and Harassment Awareness and Resilience and Wellbeing. Find more details here.

Wishing you successful wellbeing events!