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.
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 #MyWholeSelfie - and they call on senior leaders of organisations in particular as a way of leading by example and encouraging their colleagues to take part.
MHFA England are hosting a celebration of what it means to bring our whole self to work through use of webinars available to anybody.
Organisations can encourage their employees to learn more about inclusivity and diversity by providing them with the resources they need.
We offer a number of free resources on Equality & Diversity, including downloadable PDFs on the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, as well as a number of other resources.
Thinking about the bigger picture
It’s great that organisations are getting involved in awareness raising for important causes like mental wellbeing and workplace diversity. However, it is also important that they maintain this effort throughout the year.
With that being said, here are some other things organisations could consider to 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
It should be known that mental health is just as important as physical health. With that said, mental health should receive the same attention. This is why many organisations are putting their employees on a Mental Health First Aiders training course.
Acting as a point of contact for employees if they are experiencing emotional distress or suffering in silence with mental health problems, it can be incredibly beneficial for organisations to equip themselves with trained individuals.
Although it doesn’t qualify them as a counsellor or therapist, it offers employees a confidential way of opening up about their mental issues.
Each course can be completed in just 30 minutes and provide the user with a printable certificate upon completion.
These courses look at how to break the negative stigma surrounding mental health and what can be done to recognise mental ill-health and how to exercise your own wellbeing.
If you haven’t already set up your training on these topics, we can get you started extremely quickly!
Alternatively, let your employees know that you’re committed to promoting diversity & inclusion and positive mental health by speaking to them about it, getting their thoughts and feelings about the topics within the workplace and then making a set of actionable steps.
Regardless of when it is done, it is essential that all employees are provided with the correct tools and knowledge to understand the massive benefits of a diverse and healthy workforce.