Conversation is critical in proactively managing and mitigating mental health problems stemming from or exacerbated by the workplace.
Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security
Mental Health Awareness Week represents an opportunity for organisations to channel energy into promoting good mental wellbeing. One in four people in England will experience some form of mental health issue every year, according to Mind.
In security, a sector that often employs former military personnel, difficulties with mental health are even more widespread. Almost 40% of security officers are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), having been exposed to frequent episodes of verbal and physical abuse, as outlined in a study by the University of Portsmouth. This makes campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week so important.
Beyond treating people well, behaving with integrity, honesty and reliability, offering decent pay, continually investing in people’s careers, fostering a welcoming environment and actively championing equality, diversity and inclusion engagement, employers must also make employees feel comfortable and able to bring their true selves to work.
Here’s what we have implemented and encourage others to try something similar.
Create a platform to share experiences
Creating a platform for sharing experiences and giving everyone in a business a voice so they feel represented in a positive way helps to ensure there is a growing understanding and appreciation of other people’s backgrounds and views, which can positively influence perceptions and interactions. It’s about making people not only feel included, but like they belong, while offering a support network.
Corps Together, a campaign we launched in October 2020, exists to improve equality, diversity and inclusion, and works to ensure that our colleagues feel protected, safe and empowered.
Conversation is critical in proactively managing and mitigating mental health problems stemming from or exacerbated by the workplace. By creating an environment where colleagues feel comfortable and safe speaking to us, we can identify where extra support is needed and reinforce those networks to ensure help is always available.
In a bid to drive a culture where differences are valued and celebrated, we actively encourage our colleagues to express themselves in whatever ways suit them. To do this, we provide a platform for people to share their interests and stories in a creative, meaningful manner, be it:
- Providing a hot take on a current issue;
- Journaling an interesting faith journey; or
- Writing poetry.
We recently held a coffee and biscuits Teams call where there were guest speakers and colleagues that felt comfortable doing so gave an update on their personal challenges with mental health.
Appoint your Guardians
The Corps Together team is made up of nine Guardians grouped into teams of three. Each group is dedicated to two or three of the recognised protective characteristics:
- Gender and Sexual Orientation;
- Marriage & Civil Partnerships;
- Gender Reassignment; and
- Pregnancy & Parental Leave.
This structure allows a dedicated panel to support, guide and celebrate our communities who relate to, or show interest in any of the protected groups.
Speak about feelings
In addition to acknowledging and celebrating religious events and awareness weeks, we host monthly activities and quarterly forums where people can share their stories and feelings. We host a series of coffee mornings to connect the team, virtually or in person, and discuss a particular subject. Past topics have included:
- LGBTQ Month;
- Men’s mental health to reflect, gain knowledge and share our experiences to raise awareness and support.
Keep the conversation going
We have a dedicated Corps Together Email Inbox, a Corps Together Website, and our magazine, ‘Together’.
All colleagues can log onto their employee portals, Corps Together website query page or a direct email to our dedicated inbox, which will ensure a response within 24hrs.
We – and other organisations – wouldn’t be where we are without our team. Platforms like this allow us to grow stronger and become better at what we do.