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Mental health in the workplace – some simple hacks

Is today really the gloomiest day of the year? According to the travel company that named the third Monday of January ‘Blue Monday' in the mid-Noughties, it is.


PR stunts aside, there are many things including the post-Christmas blues; credit card payment bills, and, in the Northern Hemisphere, the harshness of long, cold, dark nights that can affect our mental health. And at BTV we take mental health in the workplace very seriously today, tomorrow and every day throughout the year. We also believe that there are optimum levels of stress under which we should work; too little and we aren’t being effective; too much and there are long term consequences for mental health.

This is why we set up a weekly team meeting for people to discuss issues. We also implemented our own BTV Stress Meter for people to anonymously record their stress levels ahead of the meetings. Each of us simply ticks an online box stating the level of stress or work pressure we are experiencing – too little, optimum, or too much.  This gives us regular insights into the overall team stress levels so we can proactively manage workload and help ease mental health issues. Every team member is encouraged to speak up if they feel overwhelmed, either in the team session or to raise it in a one-on-one session with their line manager or mentor. 

We also look at ways to introduce good mental health measures into our daily schedule. 

These might involve team outings where we get together and enjoy ourselves away from our laptops. We’ve had evenings out at the theatre, crazy golf and escape rooms to weekends away with the whole team which include numerous team building activities. During lockdown we enjoyed virtual drag bingo and murder mystery evenings. We’ve also had proper ‘out-of-office’ days for the entire team, where we close the office, our laptops and work emails, so we all have time to switch-off and recharge our minds. We’ve set up more flexible working arrangements for some colleagues and we are on a blitz this year to ensure that everyone takes up their full holiday entitlement. 

We believe that a good work-life balance is vital to mental wellbeing. That means putting as much importance on everything you do outside of work, including nurturing relationships with family and friends or making space in the day to do something you enjoy. My personal antidote to acute pressure is to spend an hour on a horse. It’s an activity where you have to be fully present, both mentally and physically – if you aren’t there’s a very good chance of falling off – and you simply can’t fret about work or anything else that’s bothering you.

There are many ways to find an optimum work-life balance and to maintain good mental health. But I believe that the very first step should be to raise awareness of it in your workplace, then strive to implement measures that benefit everyone. 

Starting a conversation about mental health in the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult. And there are booklets and e-training courses available from established mental health charities around the world. Seek advice from one in your country and ask them about free resources. 

A good article from an employee point of view is this one in the Harvard Business Review. Another useful article, this time offering advice to employers, can be found here in Forbes. 

Your strength is in your team. And their strength is in having good mental health.

Written by
Fiona Kinghorn
CFO in residence
Written by
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