Sunday was World Mental Health Day and so, fresh from the weekend, our colleagues were today invited to virtual sessions on the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
World Mental Health Day is a great reminder that it isn’t just a once a year subject, but something that requires care and attention every day. In May last year, we pledged to help our colleagues improve how they look after their physical and mental wellbeing so they can be their best at work and in their daily lives as a part of our company purpose Improving Lives for Generations.
Since then, we have done a lot and a lot more remains to be done, and that is why we are proud to today launch a new Employee Resource Group, Happy, Healthy Minds, to provide resources and events throughout the year to support colleagues. We are also committing to growing our network of certified Mental Health First Aiders by at least 75 people across all of our regions globally. And we will begin a continuous training initiative for our managers on inclusive conversations, mental wellbeing and wider Equity, Diversity & Inclusion topics.
In today’s open and interactive discussions, Tara Kent, CEO of wellbeing consultancy CHAMPS, along with Lauren von Stackelberg, Tate & Lyle’s Chief Equity Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Andrew Taylor, Tate & Lyle’s President of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and Kelly Fox-Petersen, head of the Happy, Healthy Minds ERG, led a conversation around the nuances of mental health and wellbeing, and the stigma that still surrounds the subject.
“The terms ‘mental health’ and ‘wellbeing’ are used interchangeably,” Tara explained. “They’re fundamentally an overview of how we are, how we’re feeling about ourselves, our lives, and how we feel about our future.
“Part of the problem stems from when we say the phrase ‘mental health’, people hear ‘mental ill-health’. They hear illness, they hear a problem, they hear the negative side. Some people might then think they don’t have a mental illness, so they discount mental wellbeing and feel like it doesn’t apply to them.”
As we approach the two-year mark of the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the world, the groups reflected on the period of stress, uncertainty, altered life experiences and settling into a ‘new normal’. “It’s highly likely that everybody at some point has experienced a period of poor mental health recently. We’ve been in the same storm, but in different boats.”
“But if you think about it in terms of physical health, sometimes we’re brilliant, sometimes we’re okay, and sometimes we’re not very good. The same can be said of our mental health.”
Andrew explains: “Part of hosting these sessions today, is to let people know that it’s okay for you to say that you’re not okay. It’s okay to raise your hand and ask for help, and it’s okay for us to take time to check in on ourselves and our colleagues.”