Pink watercolour background with the words 'mental health at work commitment'

Mental Health at Work Commitment

On University Mental Health Day in 2020 we shared the good news that the University of Sheffield has signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment and the standards, which underpin it, provide a roadmap for employers to achieve better mental health outcomes for their employees. The commitment comprises a set of actions that employers can follow to improve and support the mental health and positive wellbeing of their staff.

These actions are set out in six mental health standards below:

1. Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity

2. Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes

3. Promote an open culture around mental health

4. Increase organisational confidence and capability

5. Provide mental health tools and support

6. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting


Mentally Healthy Universities Pilot Programme and Mental Health at Work Commitment Guide for the HE Sector

Aligned with the Mental Health at Work Commitment, the University of Sheffield was successful in an application to work in partnership with Mind and participate in their Mentally Healthy Universities Pilot Programme.

The programme of work reaches across staff and students and is being delivered in a partnership between Human Resources and colleagues in Student Services. This pilot programme is due to close August 2021 and the key findings from the pilot have been incorporated into the recently launched Mental Health at Work Commitment Guide for the HE Sector. The guide includes case studies from the University of Sheffield and the other universities participating in the Mentally Healthy Universities Pilot Programme.

Recap on the Mind Mentally Healthy Universities Programme

Nine Universities participated in the pilot programme including Sheffield, with the aim of identifying strategies, interventions and cultural change to shift the focus of mental health support towards prevention and early intervention.

The programme has five main goals of which the following two relate primarily to staff:

Goal 4: Reduce stigma and improve peer support for university staff

The main activity under this goal is to put in place a structure of trained Mental Health Champions across the University.

The aims of this are:

  • Stigma and discrimination are reduced as staff feel better able to speak about their experiences of poor mental health
  • Champions will be more able to support their own and others’ mental health
  • Staff will be more aware of help available at work and externally and will feel more able to seek help if they need it
Goal 5: Make positive changes to the way universities think and act about mental health

The main activity under this goal is to embed the Thriving at Work Standards across working practices and within the environment at the University of Sheffield.

The outcomes of this will be a programme of activity that ensures working practices, environment and interventions are effective in supporting the positive mental health of all staff.

Photo from MIND launch

The Staff Wellbeing Team pictured above, meeting with national Mind and other universities at the launch of the programme in 2020.


Ongoing Work to Support Staff Mental Health at the University of Sheffield

Staff and Student Mental Health Strategy

A proposal has been agreed by Vice Chancellors Advisory Group (VCAG) to develop a joint Student and Staff Mental Health Strategy, taking a One University approach to supporting mental health in the working and learning environment. For students and staff the Mental Health Strategy will align with the key objectives of the Student Minds Mental Health Charter, and will run in parallel with other similar frameworks such as the UUK Stepchange Framework and the aforementioned Mental Health at Work Commitment Guide for the HE Sector.

Staff Mental Health Champions

Over November 2020 and March 2021 a cohort of our Wellbeing Champions undertook training in championing mental health, provided under the pilot programme by Mind, to supplement the sessions on offer as part of our internal wellbeing champion scheme.

It is envisaged that Wellbeing Champions will as part of their role, take a lead on raising awareness of mental health amongst staff and help challenge mental health stigma, supported with input from both Mind and the University Staff Wellbeing Team. A Wellbeing Champion Forum is currently being developed to help facilitate future collaboration between the 90+ champions across the university.

Staff Mental Health Peer Supporter Pilot Scheme

Starting in April 2021 the University Staff Wellbeing Team are overseeing a pilot using Mind’s expertise and research on peer support to test tailored support specifically for peer supporters at universities.

Peer Supporters are staff with personal experience of poor mental health or of a mental health problem, who provide support to their colleagues. Participating staff will receive training and support from Mind.

For more information on the Peer Supporters please click here.

This Is Me Yorkshire

This is Me, originating in the City of London and led by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, is a pioneering initiative to reduce stigma and dispel myths around mental health in the workplace. Its goal is to improve awareness and understanding of wellbeing in order to create safer and more supportive working environments, which are also healthier workplaces.

This is Me has reached beyond the City of London, and has partners driving the initiative in many other parts of the UK. This is Me Yorkshire brings the campaign directly to our region, expanding on the work already being done elsewhere. It gives a voice to Yorkshire-based businesses and individuals who want to share their story and open conversations about workplace mental health.

In Mental Health Awareness week 2021, the University was pleased to announce its association with This is Me Yorkshire and support the Green Ribbon Campaign as a sign of solidarity and support for mental health, and a commitment to #endthestigma.

The Green Ribbons:

  • Create a visible movement of support for ending the stigma.
  • Show those struggling that there is support and that they are not alone.
  • Demonstrate the level of support for wellbeing within the workplace.
  • Encourage people to share their story to create inclusive workplace cultures.

We will, over the coming months, be exploring the resources and support provided by This is Me alongside other University initiatives, to break down stereotypes and demystify mental health as well as help staff build the skills they need to look after themselves.

Find out more information and download a Green Ribbon email signature here


Resources

Everyone deals with their mental wellbeing differently. Find the best services and activities to support your wellbeing.

image of a hand holding a phone with the health assured logo on

Staff Advice Line: 
0800 028 1947

The staff advice line, provided by an independent external provider, Health Assured, is a means for all staff and their immediate families to access practical help, information, advice and support to address and resolve problems and issues they may be facing at home or at work.

The service is free, independent, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can also visit Health Assured's website (Username: Sheffield, Password: University) for more information and advice.

Laptop

Mental Wellbeing Webpages

Staff can access a dedicated set of pages and use them to consider their own and others' mental wellbeing.

Designed to be a practical resource, the mental wellbeing webpages provide advice, guidance and signposts to available services, information and activities.

Talk

Staff Counselling Service

Also provided by independent external provider, Health Assured, the Staff Counselling Service offers telephone or face to face counselling sessions to staff, where deemed suitable. Staff can access up to 8 counselling sessions free of charge.

image of 3 people stretching in weston park

Staff Wellbeing Programme of Activities

The Staff Wellbeing programme provides a variety of free activities for staff, promoting both positive physical and mental wellbeing. 

With a wide range of activities on offer including book group, choir and walking group, there are opportunities for everyone to use their voice for positive wellbeing.

Through the Staff Wellbeing programme, staff also have access to Revitalised which allows you to track your progress and has lots of recipes and fitness programmes.

Networks

Staff Networks

Staff networks are inclusive groups run by staff for staff, bringing together people from all faculties, departments and services that identify with the group.

Staff networks fulfil various functions including providing opportunities for social interaction, peer support and personal development.

An image of the Health Assured App homepage

My Healthy Advantage App

Health Assured also have a new Mobile App, My Healthy Advantage which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play using the following employer code when prompted: MHA000149.

The app is free for you as an employee to use and offers wellbeing webinars, a daily mood checker, articles and 4 week plans, as well as a live chat function that allows you to speak with a counsellor directly.


The below video also highlights the wellbeing services available to staff at The University of Sheffield:

If you are supporting a student to manage their own mental wellbeing please find some useful webpages here.