Where's your head at?
Lucie Cave, chief content officer, Bauer Media discusses the campaign to make mental health first-aiders compulsory in every workplace
For many people, the past year of virtual meetings and online social gatherings have provided a backdrop of funny mishaps (the boss who turned herself into a potato and couldn’t get it back will always make me smile). However, there are others for whom this unavoidable screen time and lack of human interaction have had detrimental effects.
Prior to the pandemic, mental health was the single biggest cost of disability in the UK, totalling to approximately £105.2 billion per year.
So, it’s unsurprising that with lockdown, social distancing and quarantine, poor mental health has become even more prevalent.
Approximately half of the population have increased anxiety following lockdown, with one in eight experiencing panic and one in six feeling hopeless. Plus, according to a study by charity Mind, 60% of adults said their mental health has deteriorated in lockdown.
That’s why Bauer Media’s Where’s Your Head At? campaign to ensure parity between physical and mental health first aid at work is more crucial than ever.
Mental health first aiders learn active listening skills, symptom spotting for diagnosable mental health conditions and appropriate organisations to signpost to for further support.
We first launched the initiative in 2018 with Natasha Devon MBE and Mental Health First Aid England with a petition to make mental health first aid a legal requirement in the workplace, asking our audiences across our magazine and radio brands to get involved and sign.
To amplify the message, we roped in a few of our celebrity friends including Jamie Laing, Peter Andre, Liam Payne and Rachel Riley to spread the word and, as it currently stands, we now have over 214,000 supporters.
Five months after launch, the petition was delivered to 10 Downing Street and in January 2019, gained further momentum when Luciana Berger MP, Johnny Mercer MP and Sir Norman Lamb discussed the initiative again in Parliament.
We had some successes – our workplace manifesto, signed by business leaders across the UK, led to a change to the workplace Mental Health guidelines. But then Brexit and COVID happened, putting the brakes on our vision for free accessible mental health support for all.
Fast forward to today, we are now a step closer in realising our goal of compulsory mental health first-aid in every workplace.
Dean Russell MP – our newest official WYHA Ambassador – introduced a new Parliamentary Ten-Minute Rule Bill last month, calling to make mental health first-aid part of first-aid training requirements in workplaces as well as in wider society.
He said, “I think the next few months will likely highlight a range of issues we haven’t faced before in society and so it is important that employers are understanding in their approach”.
The Bill has gone through to second reading and we are eagerly waiting to see what the outcome will be.
Whilst influencing the law is a sure-fire way to drive change, it’s unfortunately slightly out of our hands. That’s why, in the last three years we’ve committed to continuing the conversation with our audiences through some powerful projects to shine a spotlight on breaking down the stigma.
This includes uniting all our publishing and radio brands for a huge social media blackout for two hours on World Mental Health Day 2019. Our message – which had 6.4 million impressions – was that while social media is great, it’s also important to remember to connect with others in real life.
Most recently, to mark World Mental Health Day 2020, we teamed up with mental health charity Chasing the Stigma to launch #PledgeKindness, a campaign that encouraged people to do something kind for someone else (pictured).
Our research had told us that 77% of our audience felt that acts of kindness helped boost positive mindset. So, our campaign aimed to spread happiness across the country, foster communication and human contact, and improve people’s mental health.
Audiences were invited to ‘pin’ an act of kindness to an interactive digital map, allowing them to see other pledges that have been posted locally and across the country.
Built in partnership with Chasing the Stigma’s Hub of Hope app, the map also brought together all mental health services available to someone in any given area.
On the eve of World Mental Health Day, Absolute Radio also took out the final ad-break every hour between 10am-4pm and replaced it with an instrumental song. This encouraged listeners to take time to think about the power of words, their mental health and how they can help the people around them.
The #PledgeKindness campaign reached over 10.5 million people, seeing over 4,200 kindness pledges, 210,000 video views and 16,000 social engagements.
We’re really proud of the work we’ve achieved through WYHA but know that change takes time.
This isn’t just about repairing any negative effects the pandemic may have had on our mental health, but revolutionising the way mental health is discussed and understood.
Now, 83% of you agree with us that mental health is one of the biggest issues facing our nation (it was 77% in 2018).
With over 1.8 million workers reporting a mental health related absence in 2020, we must continue to champion mental health both at work and at home.
At Bauer Media, we have gone from having seven trained mental health first aiders to over 60, and we have been inundated with requests for even more training.
We also provide all our people with free access to an Employee Assistance Programme, a service provided by third-party organisation, Health Assured to offer confidential counselling and advice on a wide range of work and personal issues, 24/7/365.
Though it’s important to note that you don’t have to be professionally trained or be a counsellor to be able to help. Why not start with a simple conversation?
Take the time to speak to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours and ask them where their heads are at.
For more information on Where’s Your Head At? or to access help and resources, please see https://www.wheresyourheadat.org/index.php