The 18th March marks My Whole Self Day, an awareness day campaign created by Mental Health First Aid England that calls on organisations to empower their employees to “bring their whole selves to work”. In short, this means not having to hide part of your identity at work, whether it be cultural or ethnic background, gender identity, sexuality, disability, health, or mental health.
Being able to be your whole self is mutually beneficial for an employee's mental health and business success, as creating a mentally healthy workplace allows productivity and wellbeing to go hand-in-hand.
My Whole Self aims to create a culture where people have the safety and freedom to choose which parts of their identity they share at work, without fear of judgement. The campaign calls on all employers to create inclusive workplaces, where people feel valued and safe. Doing so enables staff to focus on the job in hand, supports mental health and wellbeing, and boosts productivity through innovation.
How you can get involved
There are a number of ways organisations and individuals can get involved in this campaign, including...
MHFA are encouraging individuals to share a social media post with the hashtag #MyWholeSelf - and they call on senior leaders of organisations in particular as a way of leading by example and encouraging their colleagues to take part.
We’re delighted to share some of the iHASCO selfies in support of the day.
Here at iHASCO we are a family. We want every team member to feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work. We recognise that being comfortable to do this will help make our workplace mentally healthy and allow each and every employee to shine. We genuinely believe that our people are what makes iHASCO great.
Mental Health England has a series of free webinars surrounding workplace mental health and wellbeing, including several My Whole Self themed webinars. You can register for upcoming webinars as well as watch previous ones here.
MHFA England also offers a number of resources for businesses to get involved in My Whole Self day. But it doesn’t just have to be a one day only focus. Their My Whole Self MOT can be used at any time for employees to review their own wellbeing.
Thinking about the bigger picture
My Whole Self is about encouraging organisations to show their support of their people bringing their ‘whole self’ to work to allow diversity and inclusion to be at the centre of workplace mental health and wellbeing. More and more organisations are beginning to recognise the importance of creating an inclusive workplace but it can be difficult to know where to start. It can be helpful to look at the process as a journey that can be built on and continually strengthened.
With that being said, here are some other things organisations could consider to support and promote mental wellbeing and diversity throughout the year…
Policies and procedures in the workplace play an integral part in expressing an organisation’s values and establishing its culture.
Many organisations have a written Equality & Diversity policy, which is a written agreement about how your organisation will avoid discriminating against people, and how you will create a safe and inclusive atmosphere for your staff.
Additionally, some organisations have a Workplace Wellbeing policy in place that outlines their health and wellbeing aims for the business.
It is important that these policies are frequently brought up, as St John Ambulance’s state that less than 1 in 5 people are aware of their employer having a mental health and wellbeing policy.
Mental Health First Aiders
Our mental health is as important as our physical health and many employers are beginning to recognise this. Thankfully the stigma surrounding mental ill-health is gradually being reduced however a lot more can be done. This is why organisations are choosing to support and train employees to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs).
Acting as a point of contact for employees if they are experiencing emotional distress or suffering in silence, MHFAs can be incredibly beneficial to help guide and support employees with any mental health and wellbeing needs.
Although it doesn’t qualify them as a counsellor or therapist, it offers employees a confidential way of opening up about their mental health.
You can read more about Mental Health First Aiders here.
Online Training & resources
Providing your employees with regular awareness training and resources can also help build a culture where inclusivity and mental wellbeing are at the heart of your organisation.
Our online awareness training including Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) training, Disability Awareness training, and Gender Identity & Expression (GIE) training can help introduce your employees to the topic of inclusivity and really help drive your company forward in becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Bringing these topics to the forefront will help your employees feel more comfortable bringing their whole self to work.
Our mental health and wellbeing training courses include mental health awareness, stress awareness, managing anxiety, as well resilience and mindfulness. These courses provide your staff with the opportunity to pick up some tips to positively influence their wellbeing, as well as learn about some practical tools to support their mental health. You can set up a free trial of our entire course library to see how workpalce training could benefit your employees.
Do not underestimate the importance of talking to your employees regularly to prove your commitment to their mental health and wellbeing, as well as acceptance and desire to create a fully diverse and inclusive workplace. Gaining their opinions will help you understand their thoughts and feelings on these topics, as well as direct you in making a set of actionable steps to ensure your people are mentally healthy and feel safe and free to be themselves.
Ultimately, it is essential that all employers and employees are provided with the correct tools and knowledge to understand the huge benefits of a diverse and healthy workforce. We encourage everyone to take a moment today to think about their whole self, whether that’s simply acknowledging what makes you unique or what steps you can take to look after yourself and protect your mental wellbeing.