Blogs / 29.09.2023
National Inclusion Week Series, supporting the mental health and well-being of your workforce
National Inclusion Week gives us the perfect springboard to move the conversation about Diversity & Inclusion to a broader audience. Fostering an inclusive working environment goes beyond just addressing visible diversity; it also involves supporting the mental health and well-being of your workforce. This support brings many benefits not just to staff, but also to the organisation as we know that valued and supported employees are more productive, stay with your organisation for longer and deliver the best outcomes.
One of the networks that support our colleagues at Compass Group UK is the ‘You Matter’ network which has been set up to support our colleague’s mental wellbeing and foster a positive working environment that encourages openness and acceptance.
As part of our National Inclusion Week series, we caught up with Haley-Mae Downer, Business Development Director for One Retail and our Healthcare Ambassador for the 'You Matter' network, to find out more about ‘You Matter’, what it can achieve and why it is close to Haley-Mae’s heart.
Can you tell us about your role as the Healthcare You Matter Lead Ambassador and why inclusion is important to you?
You matter is all about supporting mental health because as the title says, “you matter” and we want everyone in our community to feel that.
My role is to provide a voice of the people, put the feelings to the steering group. I’m happy to speak up bravely and own the importance of how we can better support our community which evolves as the world around us changes.
We must recognise our differences and embrace what we can learn from everyone’s uniqueness, once we take time to learn what this is. It’s amazing how much more we can achieve from being inclusive and celebrating diversity as a business that reaches so many people.
How do your personal experiences influence your approach to promoting inclusivity, specifically the You Matter network?
Poor mental health affects all of us at some point either directly or indirectly. I have personal experience in supporting other people who have had mental health struggles and I too have personally battled a major depressive episode very recently which I am still recovering from.
This personal experience has shown me first-hand how it is much better to not wait until your tank is empty to put your hand up for help. Mental health can have a seriously detrimental effect If left ignored but with help and support there is a way through the dark days. Mental health does not define who you are, what you are capable of and it’s so important to break the stigma surrounding this. I am proud to be a part of this much needed change as part of the you matter network as you really do matter even maybe when you might not feel it!
What tools and support are available for our colleagues to support them with their mental health and wellbeing?
Mental Health support is so unique to each person there isn’t a one size fits all. Within the D&I portal there are useful resources, self-help plans and resources to support when in crisis or unsure what is needed, which is so often the case when your mental health is struggling.
There are external, confidential helplines and ambassadors within the business who can listen without judgement and signpost you to help and support.
Any advice to managers leading a team, seeking to become more inclusive and support their team to create a culture of openness?
Leadership is fundamentally about taking care of those in your charge. This for me is only authentically achieved by showing what we want to encourage from others, showing vulnerability and openness breeds a safe, supportive culture where others can feel comfortable to do the same.
It’s pretty simple which is something we need with all the other pressures that life can bring. Being able to bring your whole self to work without judgement is something I encourage others to demonstrate, after all we are all human and not robots! Any managers wanting a simple reference point should get in touch to help spread the word on support available, regular check ins and encouraging mental health wellbeing awareness every day 😊