HPC had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of Mashbo Gavin Sherratt. Gavin has made sure that Mental Health is at the core of his business, through open discussions surrounding issues that employees have struggled with to working with mental health organizations like Alder Hey CAMHS. Mashbo is a stellar example of a company providing the correct mental health support for its staff.
1. When did you first find that there was a need to introduce a mental health programme within your business?
We have long advocated the need for employees’ mental health to be considered as seriously as their physical health. We’ve also spoken openly about our own personal experiences to show how people with mental health issues can still be strong and effective leaders.
When we established Mashbo, it made sense to us to weave good mental health support into the fabric of our business. As part of that, we made it our mission to work with organizations committed to improving mental health services and challenging the stigma attached to poor mental health, such as Alder Hey CAMHS and Chasing the Stigma.
2. Prior to this, did you feel that employees felt comfortable raising concerns about their mental health in the workplace?
There is always a reticence for employees to open up about mental health issues because of the stigma that is still wrongly attached to them. When people join Mashbo, we find that this fear fades quickly when they realise how openly we discuss mental health generally.
3. What do you think is the most effective way of opening a dialogue about stress, depression and mental health within the business?
Straight conversations, honesty and leading by example have been our most effective approaches in opening the dialogue about mental health issues. You can have the most robust mental health programme in the world, but how can employees open up if they never hear senior people doing so? We make a point of talking about it openly when we are struggling.
We don’t just focus on mental health ‘issues’ alone either. Our work with Chasing the Stigma, creating the Hub of Hope mental health support database, has lead us to realise that we need to accommodate our mental health as a whole, when it’s good and when it’s bad.
4. In cases where an employee has raised an issue or concern, have you noticed any common themes/causes?
The technology sector is fast-paced and high pressure. The stress of workload is often a factor, but we also find that there are often external drivers to that issue. From a senior staff level, we see the pressure on the business to deliver as a major factor that trickles down. It’s a real balancing act to create an environment that promotes good mental health in employees, but also allows the business to survive and thrive.
5. What are some wellness exercises or processes that you have introduced into the workplace that an employee could implement within their personal life also?
As well as our open discussion policy, all of our staff members receive Chasing the Stigma’s ‘Ambassadors of Hope’ mental health training, which focuses on how to talk about mental health, how to effectively signpost those who need help to appropriate support and how to deal with a mental health crisis.
Mashbo employees also have access to counselling and Big White Wall through private healthcare. We try to highlight that this benefit shouldn’t be reserved for a mental health crisis but used as a preventative measure.
We also facilitate flexible working, organise regular team socials and allow time during the working day for people to attend exercise, wellbeing or mindfulness classes.
6. It is clear that a lot of workers are suffering in silence, do you have any recommendations or suggestions to help them feel more comfortable in sharing their issues?
Again, this needs to come from the top. Business leaders need to be honest about their own issues. This creates a safe environment where employees don’t worry that their own issues could be weaponized against them.
7. Is there a way you can measure the impact of a mental health wellbeing programme?
While it is vital to ensure a mental health programme is effective, its results shouldn’t be measured like another business metric. Mental health relates to people and their life experiences. It’s not a number on a report sheet.
8. What can staff members in a management role do to help their team struggling with mental health issues?
First and foremost, they need to look after themselves. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can support your team. Other than that, they need to be equipped to start conversations to ensure that individuals struggling to get help and support. Even if there is a culture of open discussion, some people will still not speak up.
9. Have you noticed any improvements at Mashbo since you introduced a mental health programme?
People speak up without fear. They get the help they need before they reach a crisis point.
10. Have you faced any challenges since introducing a mental health programme at Mashbo?
The main challenge is that humans are all individuals. There is no formula for employee mental health, unlike other business processes. You have to work hard to help people find the solution or support that works for them.
11. What recommendations would you give for other businesses trying to introduce a mental health programme?
Don’t make it a tick box exercise. Live and breathe what your policies and procedures advocate and remember at all times that you are dealing with individuals who will all respond differently to the challenges that work and life often throw our way. Create an environment where people can talk openly and feel listened to and supported.
If you would like any further information on how you could improve the mental health support in your business, please contact the HPC team today.
Likewise, visit Mashbo’s social media profiles to see what they have been up to!
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Mashbo
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/mashbo/
Website – https://mashbo.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/HPC_HRservices