12 ways to observe World Mental Health Day on October 10

Moving rapidly up the list in the last two years, workplace mental health is a top priority for organisations today. Business and HR leaders everywhere are far more cognisant of the importance of mentally healthy workplaces, and World Mental Health Day – a global event observed on October 10 – forms the fulcrum of many companies’ efforts to promote well-being at work.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is ‘Make mental health for all a global priority.’ If you’re keen to participate in this worldwide movement, you must ensure that your organisation’s plans echo the theme of #WMHD2022 as well. Here’s a ready reckoner your organisation can use to plan its activities, events and campaigns around World Mental Health Day 2022.

On World Mental Health Day, employers can showcase a genuine commitment to workplace well-being in ways other than the usual emails and intranet banners. Some of them are:

Townhalls

Organise a company-wide townhall involving employees across functions and locations. The townhall’s objective should be to acknowledge the mental health risks and challenges in your business or industry and discuss how the company plans to ensure better well-being for its people.

The townhall also provides a platform for people (especially leaders) to share their own mental health struggles or journeys with others. CXOs and function heads need to lead these discussions from the front; this will encourage people across rank and file to open up about their experiences.

Policy revamp

World Mental Health Day is a great time to roll out long lasting changes in your organisational policies and processes. One example is launching an organisation-wide mental health policy (if you don’t have one already).

You can also consider evaluating, and where necessary upgrading, your existing policies around workplace diversity, equal pay, anti-bullying and anti-harassment, flexibility, parenthood leave, etc., since all these policies greatly impact workplace culture and attitudes towards mental health.

Well-being surveys

In the words of Peter Drucker, what gets measured, gets managed. A good starting point for your organisation’s well-being journey on World Mental Health Day is an employee survey. The survey must dive into your employee’s experience, covering key points such as stress levels, resilience, depression and anxiety risk, sleep quality, and other vital mental health parameters.

The data from the survey will provide valuable insights into the course of action required to mitigate and manage mental health risks in your workplace.

Upgrade the work environment

Do your company’s health and wellness amenities make it easy or desirable for people to use them? For instance, if your workplace gym opens only after your employees’ official work-day ends, most people would prefer leaving to staying back to use the gym.

Similarly, if your cafeteria doesn’t provide healthy food options, it makes it difficult for employees to adopt better dietary habits.

Making the necessary changes in the physical environment – which includes adding green spaces, child creches, smoking-free areas, etc. – can have long-lasting benefits for workplace wellness.

Expert-led workshops

Another way for companies to observe World Mental Health Day is to rope in mental health experts, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, to speak to employees. Experts can provide your people the tools to identify the signs of mental distress and seek (or provide) support for the same.

In addition, you can invite people with ‘lived experience’ of mental health issues to talk about how they successfully managed their disorders. Sessions like these go a long way in eliminating taboos and helping employees realise that they don’t need to suffer in silence.

Wellness retreats

A wellness retreat is basically an offsite activity where teams participate in wellness-related activities like mindfulness, yoga, art therapy, or games. Consider taking your team to a scenic outdoor location where people are likely to feel more relaxed and participate whole-heartedly.

Action plans

On World Mental Health Day, you can ask each employee to create a ‘wellness action plan’. This plan, which they will only share with their immediate teams, will detail the steps they will take to promote their own health (e.g., by increasing daily activity or spending more time with family), and to support each other (e.g., by checking-in on a struggling teammate and offering help if needed).

Rewarding well-being heroes

This may be more relevant to organisations that have stated owners/advocates for their well-being initiatives. World Mental Health Day is a great occasion to acknowledge and reward the efforts of such people in destigmatising mental health and enabling colleagues to get support.

Even if you do not have a structured well-being programme, you can still seek and reward people who are known for their positive, empathic, and sensitive attitude towards their colleagues.

Outreach activities

Your activities don’t need to be restricted to employees alone. Consider extending your mental health programme to other stakeholders, such as your employees’ families, your vendors, blue-collar staff, customers, local communities, etc.

Roping these groups into your World Mental Health Day celebrations ensures that you remain focused on the well-being of your overall ecosystem, and not just your full-time staff.

Resources

Too often, well-being resources are shared in the form of formal and wordy PDF documents that are not exactly reader-friendly. Hence, it’s important to distribute mental health information in well designed, crisp and visually appealing formats such as illustrations, infographics, or video. Make sure the information is also distributed in multiple languages for easier consumption of the material.

Social media conversations

Businesses must join the ongoing conversations around World Mental Health Day on social media. You can use the #WMHD2022 and #WorldMentalHealthDay official hashtags while sharing information about your company’s wellness initiatives, participating in online discussions or webinars, and tagging the colleagues who are making a difference at the workplace.

You can also download toolkits and information provided by the World Federation for Mental Health, the World Health Organisation and other bodies, and use it in your own campaigns.

Group activities

On average, people spend 8-10 hours a day at their jobs. This time becomes more enjoyable when people feel part of a larger community based on their shared interests. You can build and nurture such employee communities around interests or hobbies such as sports, gaming, biking, social work, etc., to encourage meaningful connections among people.

In addition to the above ideas, you can devise your own ways of observing World Mental Health Day such as panel discussions, sensitisation programmes, marches or vigils, events involving employees and their families, team lunches, etc. As the world unites in support of better mental health for all, employers can do a lot to put their weight behind this cause and support workplace mental health for every employee and stakeholder in the business.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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