World Mental Health Day: It’s okay to not be okay

Today is World Mental Health Day. Like others, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on the importance of prioritising mental health in the workplace. It can only help if we share our approaches.

At Hollis, something we’ve always recognised and focused on is that it is people that make us who we are. Looking after our people is, and will continue to be, a top priority. Last year, we signed the Time to Change employer pledge to support mental health. And from today, we are partnering with EG to support its Mental Health Programme – a collaboration with This Can Happen to explore mental health challenges and solutions for real estate.

See also: EG’s Mental Health Hub >>

We have a number of systems in place across the business to ensure people feel supported and have somewhere to turn, no matter what they’re going through.

One such support system is our very own group of mental health champions, made up of eight people from across the business who are on hand to lend an ear and provide an opportunity for employees to talk confidentially and openly about their mental health. We also hold regular tea and talk sessions across our network of offices, where everyone is encouraged to take a break, have some tea and cake and engage in open, honest conversations about mental health with colleagues.

Furthermore, all of our managers are equipped with mental health in the workplace training, so they are more able to understand mental health issues and give the support and help that is sometimes needed to those whom they manage. Through our Employee Assistance Programme, we’re able to offer professional support for any personal problems that might adversely impact people’s performance, health and wellbeing, including confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, legal help and much more. Having various levels and channels of support ensures that help is as accessible as possible for our people, which goes a long way towards our aim of establishing and embedding a workplace culture that recognises the importance of people’s wellbeing and cares about their mental health.

We asked some of our Mental Health Champions for their take on mental health and our approach to wellbeing in the workplace. Here’s what they said:

David Smith, associate, Glasgow

“Mental health should carry as much weight as physical health. That’s the approach Hollis has adopted. We work hard to break the taboos associated with mental ill-health and encourage an open, honest and supportive environment. As a Mental Health Champion, I’ve completed training in workplace mental health and can now act as a resource for my colleagues to call upon if they are facing difficulties. This process has also helped me to monitor my own mental health.

Tony Grant, partner, Dublin

“The stigma of “having a bad day or phase” as a result of mental difficulties has well and truly passed, and we should be encouraged to talk openly and to share concerns and open up to confidantes. We take a serious and proactive approach to the wellbeing of employees; having been through a few ups and downs myself I know only too well how awkward it can feel to go seek help when needed, but the support network in Hollis is outstanding and makes it a lot easier to do so.”

Nikki Themistocleous, senior secretary, Manchester

“It is so important to be in an environment where you feel supported and encouraged to ask for help. We have a number of resources available including dedicated Mental Health Champions and regular tea and talk sessions, which help to relieve some of the awkwardness that unfortunately still exists when it comes to mental health – ultimately making it okay to not be okay.”

Vicki Palmer, HR manager, London

“Mental health is something that we all have yet very few people feel comfortable talking about. It is fantastic to work somewhere that creates a positive culture about mental health and doesn’t make you feel ashamed when you are struggling. It really is ok not to be ok here and that is not something I have experienced elsewhere.”

How to implement a mental health initiative

In May 2018, Mel Olrik spoke to EG’s Samantha McClary about what Hollis was doing to create a more open and supportive culture around mental health, her top tips on how to successfully set up a mental health initiative and why it’s always good to talk. Listen to How to implement a mental health initiative

Melanie Olrik is a partner at Hollis