Mental Health continues to be a concern with cases on the rise, according to various sources.

Of course, Mental Health does not exist in a vacuum but is part of overall health and wellbeing.  From my own research there seems to be a common theme of ‘5 ways to Wellbeing’, for example Mind cite a study undertaken by the New Economics Foundation who have developed the following steps:

Step 1 – Connect

Step 2 – Be Active

Step 3 – Take notice

Step 4 – Learn

Step 5 – Give

Although there is no clear line where the responsibility of the employer for wellbeing begins and ends, there is a ‘duty of care’ requirement and more importantly, to get the best out of our people, it makes sense to ensure their needs are met.

Here are some ways to think about how you can incorporate these steps into your working life.

Isolation isn’t good for human beings.  This dates back to our need for safety as part of a tribe – feeling like the lone wildebeest equals a feeling of fear.  To connect with others, it’s clearly important to communicate; be sure to emphasise the listening rather than the talking.  Find out things about your people – better still, create an exercise or game that encourages people to share elements of themselves.

We all know what it means to be active but how can we encourage this in the workplace?  If people are working from home, there are some great stretches for people who are mainly sedentary, or desk based.  A group challenge is another way to encourage physical activity – perhaps a certain number of steps or an online yoga lesson?  To get people interested include them; ask them for ideas, what do they enjoy, and can they offer a demonstration or a recommendation?

Take notice means to stop and observe what is going on around you.  Although not everyone is a convert to mindfulness, there are many practices that you could point to for people to try.  A number of the 5 ways can be combined, for example noticing something that has changed about a colleague may lead to a deeper connection.  Simple rituals like going to the same place every day and trying to notice something different or trying different routes can alter the way our brains work to allow more space for creativity and innovation.  Activities like art can allow us to break from the normal tasks that leave us functioning on autopilot as can a regular break that forces us to pause and reset.

Everyday can be a school day and we have more resources at our fingertips than ever before to learn something new.  Again, our brain loves to learn new things and setting goals and then achieving them boosts our self-esteem.  Quizzes, projects, word of the day, bake off challenges can all be done by groups of people, wherever you are based, with a healthy dose of fun competition.  Perhaps everyone can share something they know how to do for the rest of the team (tying knots, origami, making pom poms anyone?).

I have been reading about the power of kindness in terms of the positive impact on our own wellbeing.  As more companies have a commitment to CSR, finding a way to give as a group could be incredibly powerful for team cohesion and as a personal boost.  There are so many great options available, a simple exercise in finding a cause or activity that fits your values could be another team challenge people could make suggestions, bonus points for sharing a little more about themselves, helping everyone to learn something new and be active!

If you need advice on how to support people in your business, you can contact me at

Claire Carson

Human Resources for SMEs