I usually sit downstairs, at South Block’s reception, and after sending out some overworked emails when I should have been writing my magnum opus I’m a Social Media Associate. First up is an interview with Headtorch’s very own Amy and Angus, with this in response. I’m armed with All that is Coffee’s finest blend and a very sizeable Cinnamon Bun from the Bostock Bakery on Wednesday morning. The conditions are ideal for a good blather about mental health in the workplace.
Silence. Chewing. Nom. Nom. Nom. Faces full of cinnamon. Amy, thankfully, helps translate my half-formed-question-half-formed-stutter into an answer.
“Headtorch wants businesses to consider the mental health and wellbeing of all their employees. We want them to think about behaviours in the workplace, and how they can impact on other people.”
That decaffeinated coffee is really kicking in, that early doors silence is left behind and I’m David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman and Louis Theroux combined. This. Is.
SPARTA an Interview!
Angus sits forward. He recently carried a bike up a mountain in order to cycle down it. This is either heroic or daft…I can barely carry a sausage up a flight of stairs. That’s my Everest.
Still, he knows business. Headtorch – and mental health awareness – is good for business.
“A mentally healthy workplace means less absenteeism, less presenteeism, greater engagement, greater productivity, and greater profit on the bottom line. Headtorch WORKS, our e-learning programme, has the potential to be a real game changer.”
“Game changer.” That feels right. Last week I attended Work’s Mental: Keeping our Mental Health at Work Top of the Agenda, a conference delivered by Headtorch and the University of Glasgow. It was great. Not your average snooze-fest. There was poetry and drama and speeches delivered from honest places. Headtorch makes mental health engaging, making me listen, sit up and reflect. And we chatted about business in a way that didn’t send me to sleep! About a way forward for a business culture that cares; a business culture that enables people to make the most of their talents. It opened up a new door for me, I talk a lot about mental health but I’ve never given much thought to talking about my mental health at work.
HeadtorchWORKS; a dramatic e-learning programme, improving mental health in the workplace, is their current project. It is supported by up-to-date research from the University of Glasgow and engages directly with government policy; the Equality Act of 2010. The policy has existed for a while, yet is not always well-implemented (I shudder to think of a previous employment – long story short it was RUBBISH). Angus agrees – and that’s where Headtorch’s e-learning programme can help.
“It is always difficult to interpret what policy means in practice. Headtorch WORKS makes that interpretation easier. We bring compliance to life, and show that following these laws is actually pretty simple.”
So are attitudes towards mental health, and the importance of mental health in the workplace starting to shift? What impact is Headtorch having? Are businesses getting involved? There’s a wave of enthusiasm in response, Amy tells me that this is the moment, everything is coming together. We’re on the crest of a mental health wave. Angus agrees, he’s noticed the change himself.
“At every event Amy stands at the front of the room and says
“Put your hands up if you’ve got mental health.”
“The first time she did that, everyone had their arms folded. Now, well, more people are coming to understand that they have mental health.”
I definitely feel like putting my hand up. I might not have before completing Headtorch WORKS. Maybe not even before this interview if I’m honest. I have mental health mid-anxiety-attack and as my fingers bash away at a keyboard, when I’m cramming baked goods into my gob and drafting a blog. Headtorch is a game changer because the team recognise that 100% of people have mental health 100% of the time – a mental health that varies, shifting like the weather. Mental health is something we’re accountable for, and our employers most definitely are too. Quite the impact Headtorch had on me in a little over half an hour.
The one and only All That Is Coffee are up to their eyeballs in mental health. Get those hands up!!!
Excuse me whilst I get back to my sausage, we’ll be seeing more of each other I’m sure.
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