In a world where mental health challenges have surged, addressing employees' emotional well-being has never been more critical. Evidence shows significant increases in depression and anxiety compared to pre-pandemic levels. Rates of anxiety and depression surged during the pandemic, affecting both the general and vulnerable populations. We spend much of our lives at work, making it a crucial environment for fostering mental health.

Employers have a unique opportunity to champion mental health initiatives. At Youth Projects, we recognise the importance of mental health and have implemented several strategies to support our employees.

Over the last few years, we have implemented a range of initiatives to foster greater well-being and improved mental health among our team members.

Normalising Conversations Around Mental Health

Removing the stigma around mental health is the first step towards supporting employees. We encourage open and honest discussions about mental health. At Youth Projects, we believe these conversations should be as natural as discussing physical health. By normalising mental health discussions, we create a safe space for employees to seek help when needed.

Providing Well-being Days

Well-being days allow employees to prioritise self-care. Taking time for oneself is a precious gift in a world that often glorifies busy schedules. At Youth Projects, our employees can take dedicated days off for their personal well-being. These days are about catching up on sleep and recharging one's mental and emotional batteries.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements empower employees to balance work, personal life, and responsibilities. We understand that life is unpredictable, and work should adapt to an individual's needs. Our flexible work options ensure that employees can manage their lives effectively. This flexibility reduces stress and supports overall mental well-being.

Engaging EAP Programme

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provides confidential support for personal and professional challenges. At Youth Projects, we offer this programme to our employees, and we are proud to say that one in five actively engages in it. EAP offers a lifeline to employees who may be struggling, providing professional guidance when they need it most.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Employees should feel comfortable talking about their mental health. We've worked hard to foster an environment where employees are encouraged to communicate with their managers. A culture of trust and understanding ensures that no one feels isolated or stigmatised. This support network is vital for the well-being of our team.

In these challenging times, prioritising mental health in the workplace is not just an option; it's a necessity. At Youth Projects, we are committed to supporting the well-being of our employees. We encourage other organisations to take similar steps to support their employees' mental health.

As RU Okay Day approaches, we urge everyone to participate and advocate for mental health awareness. By opening up conversations, offering support, and fostering an environment of understanding, we can create a brighter, healthier future for all employees. Together, we can make sure that "RU Okay" isn't just a question but a genuine concern for the well-being of our colleagues and loved ones.

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Written by Angela Gaylard, Co-Chair of Youth Projects’ Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Angela has over 15 years of experience in change management and driving impact frameworks. She has led strategic divisions within private businesses, NFP and education institutions. She is a passionate advocate for Organisational Development, Change Management, and Strategy Implementation to help organisations to achieve strong service outcomes for clients, boost organisational performance, and attract, develop & retain talent.  Angela is currently Head of People & Culture at Youth Projects and is a proud gender equality campaigner, LGBTQI ally, and personal development enthusiast.