Rugby league star Stevie Ward has inspired employees at Zenith for national Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Leeds Rhino player shared his own battles with anxiety and depression. He explained the benefits of creating a safe environment where mental health problems can be talked about openly.
Zenith is undertaking a series of events to promote mental and physical wellbeing. Team members are participating in a workshop led by 30 mental health first aiders, supported by regular mindfulness sessions. The opportunity of becoming a mental health first aider proved extremely popular and was oversubscribed with participants eager to go beyond their day job to help their colleagues.
The role of the mental health first aider is to provide support, in confidence, for colleagues to be able to discuss any issue. Training gives the team the tools to recognise problems early and engage with people at any time or through regular drop-in sessions that provide a structured time for a conversation. The initiative is supported with a confidential phone line which gives access to a trained counsellor.
Marisa Waddington, HR director of Zenith, said: “At Zenith we recognise that helping employees manage stress benefits our people and improves our working environment. The development of a culture where people can openly to promote good mental health is at the forefront of our wellbeing strategy.”
The location of Zenith’s new headquarters in Kirkstall Forge offers forest views and plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the open air. Its nature-inspired interior design promotes calmness, and the office provides lots of areas, including an employee roof terrace and Zen Den, where people can take some time out.
Zenith also promotes the little things that help to build a healthy culture. Employees are encouraged to take a proper break, eat lunch away from their desk and to spend time with colleagues and be part of a community.
Physical fitness is an effective way to manage stress, and a host of classes and clubs are available from regular yoga classes to running and football. During Mental Health Week, employees are being challenged to holding at least one walking meeting – to promote the benefits of the outdoors. The more active can take part in lunchtime boot camps or take a bike ride using a communal cycle scheme.
In recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive, stress accounted for 40% of all work-related illness. Professor Dame Carol Black’s review estimated the annual cost of workplace ill health at over £100bn and two-fifths of organisations had reported an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.