Mental Health Awareness campaigns take place globally each May to raise awareness, educate the public, and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. This year felt especially important as we collectively navigate through a post-pandemic health check. More than 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December, an increase from 11% the previous year. As a company, it is crucial to provide health and well-being support and resources to our employees.
The UK recognizes a Mental Health Awareness Week, while the US observes Mental Health Awareness month. This year, we invited employees to participate in four well-being workshops designed to help bring awareness and provide practical tips for taking care of yourself. These remote Zoom classes, taught by expert coaches at Wilson Spirit, focused on themes of self-care, sleep awareness, journaling for mental health, and building resilience.
“The wellness workshop sessions gave me a chance to reflect on areas I don’t specifically stop to think about and reiterate and act on things I already know but ignore, on topics such as how self-care is important and how sleep plays into our productivity and overall health,” said team member Veena Kannan. “The sessions provided practical tips and tools such as meditation and journaling, to accomplish these so that we can effectively practice these in our daily lives.” Team member Preeti Jain added that incorporating tools and tips into a regular routine “is challenging but can rapidly yield a positive impact on overall health.”
Mental Health Awareness is also a year-round mission for our Belfast employees with their Mental Health First Aiders group. Led by Graham Taylor and Sean McGurk, the group acts as the first point of contact for team members struggling with mental health issues by providing support and guidance. Being someone others can talk to whenever they are struggling, a mental health first aider also acts as an advocate for mental health in the workplace, helping to reduce stigmas and enact positive change. The program launched in 2019 when the Belfast team partnered with the Northern Ireland mental health charity AWARE as our chosen charity for the year. Aware provided training for the group.
It was important for Graham to get involved, having gone through similar personal issues around mental health, and come out the other side. “It has really highlighted to me the importance of having someone who you can rely on and reach out to during your time of need.” He notes that as the pandemic has rapidly swept across the world, it has induced a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern. “Now more than ever, it’s important to provide that support to those in need.”
Belfast team member Jonathan Millar is heavily involved in charity work and leads the “Making A Difference (MAD) team, which partnered with Aware and recruits employee volunteers to help organize activities and well-being initiatives, to raise money for charity, and give back to the local community – Belfast does a lot of work with mental health awareness and support organizations.
“Our core value Community is important to me, not only because it allows an engaging and welcoming space for us to work in that embraces diversity and our voices, but it encourages us to give back to our local community.”
The Belfast team previously offered a variety of Zoom classes, such as yoga and wellness. This year all employees were invited to take Zoom yoga classes as part of our engagement committee activities, including monthly fitness challenges and learning and development courses to help keep teams active and motivated during times of burnout.
“It’s inspiring to see the NantHealth community acknowledge the importance of mental health and the initiatives driven by individuals across the organization,” shared Chris House, Senior Vice President of Product Management and Development. “Not only does this work destigmatize what has historically been a silent burden on those dealing with depression and anxiety, but it also makes a huge impact on awareness and taking action. At NantHealth, we are a family, and the mental health wellness of my colleagues and their families around the globe is as important as my own.”
Journaling for Mental Health
The wellness series came at a perfect time when I needed a reminder to pause, take a look at myself and figure out how I can fit self-care into my daily routine. If I don’t take care of myself now, I’ll be forced to take care of possible illnesses later! I will be using my journal to help keep track of my wellness journey. Thank you. I truly appreciate how NantHealth takes the time to invest in their employees’ mental, physical and emotional well-being.-Catye Messere, Senior Clinical Operations Nurse, Client Support
I totally enjoyed participating in the Wellness Workshops each week. My biggest takeaway message was self-care. It is easy to take care of everyone around us, especially as a nurse, and not easy to think of caring for “ME.” We were given great tips and lessons to work on throughout the weeks. Claire and Steve were a delight to listen to. I am also working on exercise, which ties into our fitness challenge for May and tracking our steps. I have kept motivated and made time in my day for myself to accomplish this. Thanks to NantHealth for offering the workshop for us.-Mary Jo Labar, Lead Clinical Operations Nurse, Client Services
-Rob Swarbrick, Engineering Manager, Product Operations