We all know that mental wellbeing is important and that line managers have responsibilities to support employees – but where to start?
It can be a difficult topic and hard to raise anywhere, let alone within the workplace with someone you may not know that well.
Since 2014, when National Grid signed the Time to Change pledge, we’ve come a long way on our mental wellbeing journey. We’re now seen as one of the leading organisations in the country for our approach to it. And, as I step into the role of chairing our company wellbeing steering group, I can see that there is a desire and appetite to be able to take the next steps.
Last year for Time to Talk day – the annual national day focusing on the importance of talking about mental wellbeing – we asked line managers to include discussions about mental health in their one-to-one meetings with employees.
In May, when we took part in the first national Business in the Community survey on mental wellbeing, we heard that line managers felt they needed more support and capability to address these issues. So we have created a range of resources to help you – available on the mental wellbeing resources portal*.
As well as a document explaining the mental wellbeing pathways and the different support that is available, we have guides and templates for how to complete an action plan to help a colleague.
These are all useful for when there is a clear issue. However, I’d also like everyone to start thinking about how we stop issues arising in the first place?
The answer is early intervention; spotting the warning signs and providing the support to cut off any problems at the pass. One way of doing that is the one-to-one conversation. Another can be by making better use of Performance Excellence hubs, so we have some guidance on this too.
Workload can be a cause of stress, but don’t forget that we all have busy and changing personal lives too … and sometimes those pressures can be the trigger. But it’s OK to talk about those issues at work – they are part of who we are and what is making us tick or falter.
I want everyone to feel able to have – and deal with – these conversations. After all, one in four of us will have some kind of mental health difficulty every year and 89% of National Grid employees report having experienced symptoms of poor mental health.
Having experienced mental wellbeing issues myself when one of my children was born, I know how important it is to have support from your work colleagues, family and friends. So, I was delighted to be able to accept the offer to chair the wellbeing steering group when the opportunity arose. I think being able to talk openly about mental wellbeing and having tools to support the conversations is critical.
UK General Counsel & Company Secretary
* You need to be connected to the National Grid network to access this link.