In April 2020, we officially signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, committing to tackling stigma and discrimination about mental health in the workplace.
At a virtual staff meeting while we all work remotely, our Managing Director, Jonathan Griffin, signed the pledge on behalf of IFIS. When we are all reunited in the office again, we will sign the official pledge board in person and celebrate.
We have been working towards this for months but the timing of our pledge signing feels particularly pertinent. Mental health and wellbeing is a subject close to many of our hearts and it is more important than ever during this strange, sad and stressful time.
As we worked on this, we learnt that whilst 1 in 3 of the UK workforce have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition during their lifetime, only 44% would feel comfortable talking to their line manager about poor mental health and 27% would fear negative consequences. (Mental Health at Work 2018 Report, Business in the Community and YouGov).
People often comment about how nice everyone is at IFIS and that is a wonderful thing, but providing a pleasant workplace and being a nice colleague only goes so far. We want to ensure that IFIS is not one of those places where people feel uncomfortable telling their manager about poor mental health or even unable to disclose it completely.
We are committed to making mental health part of the conversation and culture of IFIS, where employees feel that they understand and are aware of mental health and wellbeing, are able to speak openly and proactively about mental health, and that the company supports their mental health and we all support each other.
With the help of Employee Champions, we have a detailed Time to Change plan to put into action, and in the meantime, here are some examples of what we have put in place so far:
- Through our Employee Assistance Programme, staff can access a confidential helpline and cognitive behavioural therapy.
- In 2019, every IFIS line manager received training from Mind on managing mental health in staff so we can be better prepared to have sensitive conversations and provide support.
- The IFIS office has a library of physical booklets staff can borrow, with advice on anxiety, depression, stress and more.
- In the bathrooms we have mental health recharge kits, with support booklets, fidget toys, crosswords, aromatherapy rollerballs and breathing exercises.
- We have used Trello to bring together support resources from lots of different places, internal and external options for someone to talk to, and to share with each other things we find useful when struggling with mental ill health, such as meditation videos, pulse point exercises, podcasts and websites. This has a special section of resources specifically for mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. We have also created a public version for you to browse.
We are committed to reducing stigma around mental health and to making sure IFIS is a safe, supportive and open environment. In signing the Time to Change Employer Pledge, we are making that commitment public.
"As someone who is affected by mental ill health – I’ve been treated for anxiety and depression for about 4 years – I felt very uncomfortable about the idea of sharing it at work. However, I am so glad I did. My manager and colleagues didn’t know I needed support until I told them.
The support I receive at IFIS has a really positive impact on how I approach my mental health and I experienced absolutely none of the stigma I had feared. I know from experience how hard it is, and what a huge difference it makes when you are heard, understood and supported by your manager and your colleagues.
It’s why I personally feel so passionately about making mental health a key part of the culture at IFIS."
Rhianna Gamble, Head of Marketing and Engagement