World Mental Health Day

Most people spend a large proportion of their time at work, and in recognition this year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health in the workplace’. Executive Directors Ian Gregg and John Glenton explore what Riverside is doing to support colleagues suffering with mental health issues. 

Ian Gregg, Executive Director of Asset Services and Executive Champion to our disability staff support group ENABLE, talks about the importance of supporting colleagues with mental health problems.

Today marks World Mental Health Day and in 2017 at last it starts to feel this is now a topic that can now be talked about openly.

Whether this is down to the recent high profile announcement by the Royal Princes or the Prime Minister doesn’t really matter, as long as we keep talking about it and recognise it exists every much as any physical ailment or illnesses.

Here at Riverside I have the honour of being the Executive Sponsor of our ENABLE staff group, which is there to support staff if a disability, physical or mental, affects their ability to do their role.

At the very first meeting I attended the group raised the issue of mental health as one Riverside needed to address but were not sure how to do this.

After further discussions we decided to sign up to the Time to Change campaign earlier this year and launch the role of Mental Health Champion for staff to volunteer and support their co-workers.

Initially we thought we would have a small number of volunteers and would struggle to meet our target of 20 champions. But the staff group was right – this issue mattered to staff and we had over 70 volunteers. We are now starting to roll out a two-day training course to each and every champion to equip them with the skills to deliver this role.

Part of this campaign has seen a number of staff share their own personal stories of how mental health has affected their life and you cannot help but be touched by reading these moving stories.

This week also sees ENABLE hold its annual general meeting and I will be recognise these champions by launching our ‘enable to chat’ campaign so staff can easily recognise these champions ahead of the first training sessions starting next week.

I am proud to work for an organisation that not only takes this issue seriously but creates the conditions for the issue to be discussed and addressed and lets staff perform to the best of their ability.

I just wish more organisations could do the same for their staff and customers.


John Glenton, Riverside’s director of operations in care and support and co-chair of Spectrum, the LGBT staff group

John Glenton, Riverside’s Executive Director of Care and Support looks at what we can do to help those struggling.

Today’s World Mental Health Day raises awareness of mental health issues and what we can do to support people. This year’s theme focuses on mental health in the workplace, and here at Riverside it is so important that we support colleagues who may be suffering with mental ill-health and help reduce the likelihood of work-related stress impacting upon their mental condition. 

One in six employees may suffer from a mental health problem, and we all can play our part by recognising if someone is in distress and support them by letting them know you’re there if they need them.

Most of us are aware that it is important to look after your physical health; eat well; take exercise; don’t smoke; however we don’t have the same level of awareness of looking after our mental health. 

Mental ill health can be less obvious to diagnose and we can feel down or depressed but not consider this to be an illness or a reason to attend the doctors.  It is so important to consider how you look after your mental health at work this can be done by taking regular breaks, making sure you are able to talk to colleagues or your manager if you have things on your mind, accept who you are – good self-esteem helps you to cope when life takes a difficult turn.

Here are a few signs that a person is facing some kind of mental health difficulty and may need some extra support: 

  • Changes in their behaviour or mood or how they interact with colleagues.
  • Changes in their work output, motivation levels and unable to focus.
  • Struggling to make decisions, get organised and find solutions to problems
  • Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and losing interest in activities and tasks they previously enjoyed.
  • Eating habits have changed, lack of appetite and they are smoking and drinking more.

If you are concerned that a friend or colleague may be struggling, the best way to help and support them is to let them know you are there for them. If you can, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and listen to them in a non-judgmental, non-critical way. It is important to take things at their pace and not rush them, but reassure them that you are taking what they say seriously. You can also offer to go with them to get advice and information.