Supporting employee mental health – Riverside interview

Supporting employee mental health – Riverside interview

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that addressing workplace wellbeing increases productivity by as much as 12%.


In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week (13-17 May), we interviewed one of our speakers Fran Stulberg on how Riverside is removing mental health stigma in the workplace.


Hear the strategies that they have used to support employees to talk more openly about mental health and the impact on staff wellbeing and retention.


Fran will be speaking on the Fringe alongside other mental health leaders, providing practical advice on overcoming the culture of silence.


Have you booked your free* visitor pass yet?

1. Riverside has signed up to the Time to Change pledge with high-level support from your chief executive Carol Matthews. Why is mental health so important to you as an organisation?


Poor mental health is not a thing to be hidden or not talked about. At Riverside, we’ve recognised the impact of mental health on our customers for many years. More recently, we have realised that our staff are the foundations of our organisation, so it makes sense to support them through times of both mental and physical ill health.


Highlighting mental health and the support available will help you to retain your skilled staff and not have to recruit and train new staff, which is time consuming, expensive and can cause a loss of service to your customers.


2. Do you think mental health stigma and discrimination are still issues in the workplace? How can these be challenged and broken down?


Mental health stigma in the workplace can be challenged and broken down by encouraging your staff to talk openly about mental health. Stigma is often harboured by the sufferer themselves. If they see others talking openly about the issues and journeys they have been on, they will be more likely to speak up about their issues without fear of being judged.


Introduce awareness training for all staff to give them a better understanding. Ensure all people managers receive training on how to manage staff who are experiencing mental health and stress related issues or conditions.


Reflect equality between physical and mental health illness within your organisation’s policies and procedures. There is no difference in a person having diabetes to them being bipolar, it is purely a matter of what support suits that person to enable them to carry out their work and reach their full potential within your company.


3. Since signing up to the Time to Change pledge, you have recruited an army of 180 mental health champions! What is the role of a mental health champion? Can you give an example of the difference it is making to individuals?


Riverside’s 180 mental health champions challenge and change the way employees think about mental health by raising awareness and taking a leading role in helping to overcome the culture of silence.


Our champions, including an executive director, attend a two-day Mental Health First Aid training, which equips them with techniques and knowledge to support others.


They are a point of contact, helping colleagues to tackle mental health issues and signposting them to support, internally or through professional external organisations.


Our champions set up initiatives to improve wellbeing and are there for staff who need to talk. They encourage others to share their experiences as a way to support others who may be suffering in silence.


4. What are your tips for organisations who are starting on their journey to supporting employee mental health?


By having mental health initiatives, you will create a safe environment for colleagues to feel comfortable enough to reach their full potential.


Your staff won’t feel they have to mask stress-related illnesses or absences for fear of retribution. Knowing the source of a problem allows organisations to implement the right support mechanisms, leading to lower long-term stress-related absences.


Recruit voluntary mental health champions in as many of your offices or divisional areas as possible, so colleagues know there is always someone to talk to when they need assistance. More incentives available to support mental health will likely lead to fewer staff taking time off due to related conditions.


5. Finally, why should people come and hear you speak at the Fringe in June?


We’re on a journey and we have made some good progress. We have overcome some challenges and changed some of the culture. We know that we still have work to do and plans on how we want to achieve our goals.


I would like to share our success with other organisations who are as passionate about supporting staff as we are here at Riverside.


Fran Stulberg will be speaking on ‘Supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace’ on the Fringe on 27 June at 11:00-11:30. Have you booked your free* visitor pass yet?

*Commercial companies will be charged £150 per person per day