Mother & Baby Magazine August 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May) is a great opportunity for businesses to start a conversation about Mental Health and show their support their employees’ wellbeing.
We asked Mental Health specialist and Chartered Psychologist, Dr Niki Giatras, for her top tips for companies to help look after the Mental Health and wellbeing of their staff.
Niki is the Founder of Square Mile Wellbeing and has over 13 years experience working in academia and mental health research and uses an evidence-based approach to help HR professionals and business leaders improve health and wellbeing in the workplace
7 tips for businesses to help improve employee mental health and wellbeing
1. Demonstrate senior level buy-in
Buy-in from senior leaders in an organisation is essential to change the culture of your workplace. It’s one thing to talk-the-talk but another to walk-the-walk. Attitudes filter down from leaders and must be backed up with policies and procedures.
Senior leaders should:
– Position mental health as a boardroom issue on par with physical health.
– Consider that positive wellbeing has a well-documented impact on productivity, performance and employee engagement. Supporting wellbeing is good business for everybody1.
2. Have policies to address mental health issues in the workplace
1 in 3 of the UK workforce have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime1. Whether an employer has a standalone policy or addresses mental health within existing policies, it’s important employees are informed about what they should do when encountering mental ill health. A clear mental health policy establishes a framework for everyone to work within and shows new recruits and current employees that the organisation takes their mental wellbeing seriously2.
3. Raise awareness about mental health (all year around)
Mental health is still a taboo subject in the workplace. Sixty-seven percent of employees feel scared, embarrassed or unable to talk about mental health concerns with their employer3 .
Addressing the stigma and discrimination in the workplace is one step closer to ensuring that people feel they can come forward and seek help. Create an environment where conversations about mental health are ‘normal’, as normal as physical health.
4. Recruit and train Mental Health First Aiders and Champions
Only 16% of employees feel able to disclose a mental health issue to their manager6. In most organisations you’ll find people who are passionate about mental health. Recruit them to be your Mental Health First Aiders and champions! Becoming a mental health first aider or champion will help employees and your workplace by:
5. Communication strategy
Many organisations provide support services to employees but they are not clearly signposted and therefore under-used. It’s important to provide information about what exactly is available to all employees and how they can access services when in need.
6. Set a budget aside and invest.
It’s important that the resources necessary to implement an impactful mental health and wellbeing agenda are available with funds earmarked and employee time allocated to the cause.
7. Encourage physical activity
Encourage activities that promote good mental health, for example lunchtime exercise or relaxation classes5.
1. MHFA England – Mental Health First Aiders in the Workplace, Guide for Employers
2. Time to Change. Employer Pledge
3. Time to Change, 2011
4. MHFA England. https://www.mhfaengland.org.
5. Mental Health Foundation, Work-Life Balance, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/w/work-life-balance.
6. Business in the Community, 2018: Mental Health at Work Report
1) Pilates can help realign your posture after a day sat at your desk
Think about how you sit at your computer. Do you hunch your shoulders? Is your head forward as you look at your screen? Do you overuse one side of your body too? For example if you use your mouse or your phone often. If we stay in these positions for long periods of time, this can cause muscle imbalances. All the muscles across your chest and front can get tight, and back muscles can become elongated and weakened. During a Pilates class you’ll stretch and strengthen your muscles helping to realign your spine and negate the effects of sitting slumped at a desk.
2) Pilates is great for your mental health and general wellbeing
Taking an hour during your working day to focus on yourself, your body and your breathing is a fantastic way to help reduce stress. Pilates is a ‘mind body’ exercise. You focus on your movements as you go through the exercises and have to think about the muscles you’re working so you engage and work them correctly. This can help clear your mind and worries as you concentrate on your body during the class. There is scores of research and studies which have highlight the benefits of exercise for good Mental Health. Find out more on the NHS website here
3) You will see the benefits
As quoted by Joseph Pilates (the creator of Pilates!)
“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body”
Every body is different, so Jo’s time scales may vary!.. However after a couple of months practising Pilates regularly you will definitely notice more tone and definition in your abdominal muscles (you’ll be on your way to a six-pack!), arms and legs. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening and stretching to encourage longer leaner muscles.
4) Pilates can help with back pain
According to Public Health England, 28.2 million working days are lost per year in the UK due to Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and 1 in 10 employees report having MSK conditions. Pilates is safe and effective workout if you experience back pain (though check with your GP first). Exercises focus on working and strengthening your ‘core muscles’ (the muscles that support your spine and pelvis) and increasing mobility and function of movement. This can help to relieve pain and strengthen your spine to prevent further problems.
5) You can do Pilates anywhere
All you need is enough space to throw down a mat and away you go! We’ve taught Pilates in reception areas, meeting rooms and even tiny offices between desks.
6) All levels welcome
Pilates instructors are highly trained and exercises are safe for people with injuries or anyone new to exercise. It’s often recommended by Doctors and Physiotherapists. If you’re very fit already and/or practice other sports and exercise, Pilates is a great compliment. Exercises will always have a few options to challenge those wanting to work harder. If you’ve never tried Pilates before or think it might be easy… have a go at the Ab series and let us know what you think!
Public Health England (PHE) have published a fantastic new Health at Work resource this week. The publication presents facts and actions employers can take to ensure the health and wellbeing of their staff.
Key findings from the report include that in the UK;
This of course is a huge cost to the economy as a whole (£100 billion annually according to the report) and to businesses individually.
For employers who take care of their employees health and wellbeing there are huge benefits to be had. A healthy workforce is more productive, will take less time of sick and of course a happy employee will stay with you for longer.
PHE’s Health at Work resource suggests actions all employers can take to support their employees health and wellbeing. From ensuring senior management buy-in to encouraging healthy behaviours – such as taking breaks, eating well and increasing physical activity.
As many of us spend most our waking life in the workplace, one way employers can help staff increase their activity levels is by giving them opportunities to get more active during the day. For example, ensuring staff take their lunch break and encouraging them to leave work on time. Offering workplace fitness classes, such as Pilates or Yoga, is also great for helping staff with musculoskeletal problems (and for prevention). Encouraging staff to take time away from their desks to strengthen and stretch their muscles, can reduce the possibility of them taking sick days for back-pain and other MSK conditions.
Here are our top tips for getting active in the workplace
We were delighted to have won Shake it Up Creative’s annual #ShaketoCreate competition.
Last year we emailed our video pitch, and were very excited when we found out Exercise in the City had been selected!
The opportunity to work with Shake it Up Creative has been fantastic. Rachael and Meg have helped to promote Exercise in the City providing both practical marketing and design outputs as well as insightful tips and advice.
Rachael and Meg thank you so much for everything over the last year!
Find out more about Shake it up Creative
Looking to do something different for your office festive activities? Why not get your party started with our Rock you Asana workplace fitness class.
‘Rock your Asana’ is one of our workplace Festive Fitness Class options and brings together two great things…Power ballads & yoga!
Move your body through yoga poses accompanied by a soundtrack of some of the greatest musical creations of our time. Asana to ‘Aerosmith’, bust out a Bakasana to ‘Bon Jovi’, a Sarvangasana to ‘Starship’ and Fierce Pose to ‘Foreigner’. There will of course be the occasional Christmas track for seasonal fun!
It’s great for team building, will energise staff and get the festive spirit going in preparation for your office Christmas party whilst burning a few extra of those Christmas calories!
This fun class is for EVERY BODY so don’t worry if you’ve never tried Yoga or can’t dance! In Rock Your Asana it doesn’t matter if you can barely see your toes, let alone touch them. All the poses will be offered with modifications, so it’s perfect for even the most un-bendy of bodies.
Our Rock Your Asana class is taught by our fantastic Yoga instructor Meg Jackson.
Why not also also book a restorative Yoga session for ‘the morning-after’ your Christmas party (or lunchtime!) to help staff recover.
Find out more about our Festive Fitness Fun class options and book today.
Dance’ class or ‘Rock your Asana’ (Power Ballads meets Yoga!)… Or perhaps recover the morning after with arestorative Yoga session. It’s great for team building, will energise staff in preparation for your office Christmas party (or recovery after!) whilst burning a few extra of those Christmas calories. Find out more below and also our top tips to help you
Team Christmas lunches, tins of chocolate by the photocopier, mince pies in the kitchen… As we get closer to the festive season the workplace can be filled with temptation.
Here are our five top tips to help you stay (a little!) healthier whilst at work
1) Get some air and natural light
With shorter days it’s harder to get our dose of Vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin. Especially if you commute in the dark. From early April to the end of September most of us get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight. But between October and March we don’t get enough*. So take your lunch break, get outside and go for a walk.
We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet which is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. NHS website has information on how you can get more vitamin D into your diet.
2) Drink plenty of water
Alcohol consumption may increase a little around this time and your next day headache is a sign you might be dehydrated! NHS guidelines advise about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day. TIP: It’s important not to sit all day, so rather than just keeping a litre bottle of water by your desk, use a glass that you physically get up and refill.
3) Include some Festive Fitness to your workplace party celebrations!
Why not do something different for your office Christmas activities and organise one of our workplace festive fitness classes! You could get your party started with our ‘Desk to Dance’ class or Rock your Asana (Power Ballads meets Yoga!) … or perhaps you might need to recover the morning after with a restorative Yoga session.
As well as burning off a few extra Christmas calories, it’s a great fun team building activity and will energise you in preparation for your office party (or recovery after).
4) Avoid the office germs
We’ve had a glorious long summer and the sudden drop in temperature means sniffs and sneezes around the office are rife. Try and reduce your risk of catching colds by; washing your hands regularly, staying warm (keep a spare jumper of cardigan in your bag) and avoid snotty tissues on your desk. If your colleague is sneezing next to you, ask nicely that they bin used tissues as quickly as possible!
5) Find your balance
Life is all about balance and the odd day of indulging yourself is not going to harm you. It’s a fun time of the year after all, and it’s no good for our wellbeing if we spend time stressing about how much we’ve eaten or feeling guilty. So don’t completely deny yourself Christmas treats. Make the most of this festive period and your relaxed office vibes.
Reference *NHS website – Vitamin D advice
We supported DNEG’s staff Wellbeing week with activities to help staff get active during the week. As part of their activities for the week, we delivered our interactive Deskercise Workshop on day one. Giving staff tips to stay healthy whilst in the office and teaching exercises and stretches staff could practice at their desk through the day.
Day two, our lunchtime Pilates session strengthen, stretched and energised staff ready for the afternoon.
We finished off the week with our high intensity ‘Workplace to Workout’ Boot camp style class. An after-work class for staff to end the day, and head home from the office having had a great workout. No need to go to the gym!
We were delighted with feedback from DNEG …
Booking with Exercise in the City was seamless, once I had submitted my interest in booking some sessions for DNEG’s wellbeing week a call had been arranged. Julia was knowledgeable and really understood what we wanted to achieve, and suggested classes that I hadn’t considered which worked really well. The sessions were great especially Deskercise which was so informative and will really make a different to day to day life!
Sophie Alder, HR Advisor, DNEG
DNEG are one of the world’s leading visual effects, animation and stereo conversion companies for feature film and television.
Today is World Mental Health Day. At least one in six workers experiences common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Work is often one of the biggest causes of stress in people’s lives. *
With this in mind we’ve listed some useful resources employers and managers can access to support their staff and colleagues mental health.
The average person in Britain says “I’m fine” at least 14 times a day, according to research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, but how often do they actually mean it?”
Time to Change are encouraging people to #AskTwice if someone replies with “fine thanks”.
*According to research by Mental Health charity Mind
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May 2018)
This years campaign lead by the Mental Health Foundation is focusing on stress.
According to a new survey from the charity, over the past year almost three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
We’ve pulled together some organisations and useful resources for individuals who might be dealing with stress and to help employers support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
DID YOU KNOW? Mental health problems are all too common in the workplace and it is the leading cause of sickness absence. 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.*