For Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, I remember planning the activities for the week ahead vividly. I play an active role in Lane4's mental health awareness team (Mind4) and can remember being clustered together in one of the many Olympic themed meetings rooms at Lane4 (it was actually Tokyo 2020, the irony!).
Fast forward to Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, this week, and it all feels very different in comparison to last year. In recognition of this feeling, our Mind4 team have run an array of activities not just this week, but every week since the launch of the furlough scheme following the outbreak of COVID-19. In the absence of regular human connection, our aim has been to create an environment, albeit a virtual one, that gives our employees (furloughed or not) an opportunity to connect with one another.
At Lane4, we believe wellbeing means thriving. When people thrive, they operate as the best version of themselves; unlocking their own potential as well as that of their business. We felt that it was critical regardless of whether people were furloughed or working to keep them thriving individually during this difficult time.
5 steps to mental wellbeing
Using the NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing as a framework, our employees have found comfort in a regular drum beat of optional activities hosted by Mind4, such as those listed below:
Connect with other people
What Mind4 have done: Lane4 company-wide virtual lunch. Why? Good relationships provide emotional support and allow you to support others and share experiences.
Be physically active
What Mind4 have done: 10,000 steps before 10am. Why? Physical activity is scientifically proven to cause chemical changes in your brain which are known to positively improve mood.
Learn new skills
What Mind4 have done: Virtual cook along making spaghetti carbonara with Andrew Gillespie. Why? Learning something new helps you to build a sense of purpose and boosts self-confidence.
Give to others
What Mind4 have done: Recognise acts of kindness that have been received and take part in the ‘pass it forward’ initiative by sharing these moments with others. Why? Acts of kindness create positive feelings, a sense of reward and purpose.
Pay attention to the present moment
What Mind4 have done: Virtual gardening with Justin Warhurst. Why? Being at one with nature and paying attention to the present moment can improve your thoughts and feelings about the world around you.
Although a special emphasis will be made across the UK to raise mental health awareness this week, this pandemic is far from over and we recognise that the efforts to prioritise mental health should also be far from over too. Personally, I have gained so much from Mind4, and I would urge you to think about what your organisation is doing to aid your employee’s mental wellbeing. The value of providing people with the opportunity to connect is crucial now more than ever, and for many, will dictate how they remember the role their organisation played in helping them to cope with the ongoing impact of COVID-19.