We encourage open and honest conversations regarding mental health at Wilderness and have built a support system for our team that allows them to choose either an internal (peer to peer Mental Health First Aiders) or external platform (Spill) for guidance.
Confidence in communicating your challenges is a personal choice and not everyone will feel comfortable opening up to a stranger. That’s why we have 25% of our workforce formally trained as Mental Health First Aiders. Across all levels of seniority within the agency, our MHFA’s are fully equipped with the skill set to spot and support a colleague in need, with strategies to help recommend alternative solutions to struggles that we can each face.
Firstly, it was important to train at least 25% of our workforce to ensure we encourage a shared responsibility of supporting employee wellbeing. It was then a conscious choice to ensure this wasn’t just offered to managers or the senior team. Peer to peer support has proven to be some of the most effective at Wilderness, so to also have interns or junior staff qualified will allow further value to be added.
‘The group discussions were insightful and really allowed us to step out of our comfort zone in order to understand how to approach such topics. One thing I have learned during this pandemic is the importance of being able to listen and be of aid to colleagues and friends.’ Ayesha Fatima - Insights Strategist and Mental Health First Aider at Wilderness
On the flip side, some of our employees would actively choose not to raise concerns regarding their wellbeing at work. Though we encourage a culture of open communication, employers also have to respect personal choice and are responsible for putting additional support systems in place. We have partnered with Spill who provide qualified counselling and advice for our team, 24/7. It can be accessed discreetly, at a time that suits you on a subject of your choice.
Following the pandemic, we have seen an increase in uptake of this service by our team, largely as they try to navigate many personal changes they’ve encountered over the last 2 years.
Here’s what our paid social media manager, Katie Nicols, had to say about the platform to the wider team; ‘My experience (with Spill) was very positive and I recommend it to every one of you. It’s a fantastic benefit and whether you simply have a question or want to try a one-off session, I urge you to book one in.’
Internal and external support, whether it be for personal or professional challenges, is a core pillar of employee engagement and wellbeing. Breaking down the taboo nature of talking about mental health at work needs to be initiated and led by employers, combined with valuable and effective platforms for communication/advice and completed with honest employee feedback. It’s a continuous and evolving journey that should adapt to the changing needs of your team and struggles they face.
Tilly Morgan - Operations & People Director