Putting Mental Health on the Boardroom Agenda


About the author: Andy Romero-Birkbeck, hero Content & Delivery Director, has over 15 years’ experience in Manageable Health & Wellbeing and regularly delivers workshops and seminars on managing stress and behaviour change.


For the past decade, mental health has increasingly become an important focal point in society and as with any societal shift, it eventually impacts business and companies need to adapt.

Just the same as companies have harnessed the power of social media to reach their target audience, so too are businesses now realising the significance of raised awareness and understanding of mental health and as such know it is a vital issue they must address. This was further cemented when government bodies published surveys into employee mental health wellbeing, alongside a mental health toolkit for employers, which acted as the final catalyst that got businesses really thinking about mental health within their workplace and what they do about it – or what they should be doing.

One in four have a mental health illness

The topic is completely unavoidable now but building awareness of mental health among your employees is no longer all that is required of a business. In addition, and more importantly so, companies should be taking strong action to support everyone’s mental health and ensuring their employees know where they can access that support.

One in four people have mental health illnesses, which works out at around 8.15m employees in the UK. That’s 8.15m people who may need time off work, who are in need of additional time or help to do their job, who are desperate for some understanding from their managers and their team and who could be helped by having a clear, supportive and structured wellness programme in place while at work.

Championing from the top down

Wellness in the workplace needs to be championed from the top down. If the top of the tree takes it seriously, those beneath will follow. Taking time to show your teams that you need time out too goes a long way towards employees accepting there is only so much time in one day, and some days are less productive than others – thus tackling some of the work-related stress and anxiety workers can often feel.

A big part of pushing workplace wellness, in fact the most important part in some respect, comes from your managers. They have daily direct exposure to your employees and training them to recognise a shift in someone’s behaviour and how to better support that person is key to having a strong wellness programme in place. Your managers can advocate the programme, constantly direct team members to the advice, update them on seminars, one-to-ones and additional support and begin to tackle mental health within the workplace proactively.

At hero, we’ve recognised this and that’s why we train all management level employees in mental health and teach them how to spot changes in their teams. Hero provides managers with training of the Navigator app and listens to them to understand what training and support their teams need at any given time.

Advice for managers

When it comes to dealing with mental illness of employees I personally feel managers need to both understand how to engage in a meaningful conversation but also understand their limitations as a manager.   As a manager you need to as much as you can to support your teams but ultimately you need to safeguard yourself too.  

My checklist of advice looks like this:

  • Educate yourself on the common signs & symptoms of Stress, Anxiety & Depression
  • Facilitate good conversations and really ask “are you alright?”
  • Establish what reasonable adjustments you can make to support your team member. 
  • Identify your support network i.e. HR, Direct Leader, EAP access, Occupational  Health or even local charities. 
  • Understand your limitations – What level of help can you give before you put yourself at risk? 
  • Remember it not about you and your opinion, be impartial, non-judgmental and supportive. 

The hero difference

hero’s differing factor is its proactive approach to mental health and fitness in general. By delivering bespoke programmes for businesses that are tailored to the employees, people can access the training and advice that they need whenever they need it, and can arm themselves to spot when they are feeling strained or not quite themselves. In knowing what to look out for and having access to solutions-led advice via the Navigator app as well as one-to-one sessions with hero experts, employers can help employees to keep themselves healthy and happy and tackle mental health head on.

To find out more, just get in touch via hello@herowellbeing.com .