Working with Exceptional People to Promote Mental Health Awareness

Working with an energizing purpose to develop groundbreaking therapies and devices takes time and dedication from our entire Covance workforce. They are the key resource to our shared success. Recognizing that maintaining our team’s physical and mental health – both in and outside of the workplace – makes a significant difference in our overall well-being, a team of Covance employees at our Harrogate, UK site recently formed a Mental Health Action Group.

Learn how their initiatives are promoting a holistic approach to provide resources, offer support and help maintain a positive mental health state across our organization.

A passion project with an important mission

As an occupational health specialist in Harrogate, Helen works closely with employees to analyze their work environments and create a safe and healthy physical space. “I saw how our Employee Assistance Program at Covance offered several avenues for support beyond occupational health and safety,” she explained, “but felt that our company could offer more face-to-face, on-site mental health resources for employees.”

“It was a passion project to start with,” explained Ami, GMP QA officer. “Our main aim was to break the stigma around mental health as well as provide a beneficial working environment.”

Running a successful pilot training

The team first started with a pilot session to train managers on how to open up the dialogue with their employees, understand common mental health issues and learn about common coping techniques.

“We wanted to start the conversation about mental well-being,” said Sylvia, Associate Director, Employee Relations in Human Resources. “This effort doesn’t mean being diagnosed or treated. We want to give managers more tools to recognize the importance of mental health and provide awareness about our resources.”

The efforts are especially timely and relevant given the ongoing news coverage of mental health issues. In the UK, for example, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, while in any given week 1 in 6 will experience a common mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression.

Promoting a holistic approach to mental health

Recently, the Mental Health Action Group held an event called “Dare to Self-Care” where they promoted a holistic approach to caring for one’s mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week. With focused events held over the lunch hour in the Harrogate cafeteria, the group invited in several companies to participate, like Leeds Mind, an independent mental health charity organization and the Mental Health Foundation with its Curry and Chaat, a national fundraising event. Employees learned more about physical exercise, nutrition, diets, psychology and mindfulness along with their impact on mental health care.

We received great feedback from the training and events,” said Lucy, head of facilities at Harrogate. “It’s good for our employees – and our business – to know that we will be here when you are feeling low and reinforce the message that ‘it is okay to not be okay,’ which can help combat the stigma around mental health issues.”

Advancing mental health awareness

The next initiatives for the Mental Health Action Group includes eight training sessions in Harrogate along with ideas to spread the program to neighboring UK sites, which can eventually serve as an inspiration to develop a formal global program. The Covance Madison, Wisconsin site also recently held a mental health awareness training.

“Providing people with a way to cope with mental health issues is crucial,” said Helen. “We have witnessed the benefits of our initial efforts. Encouraging a greater focus on mental health awareness in the workplace is really great on so many levels. This is an initiative that we hope will expand to many of our global Covance locations.”

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