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Time to Change: The most important pledge VIQU could make to its employees – Lauren Baines

Mental health. A subject often engulfed by stigma.

As the Time to Change campaign suggests – it’s time to change this!

You may or may not know that a staggering 1 in 4 people are affected every year by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress. In addition, almost 1 in every 10 sick days from work for 25-34 year olds are due to mental health conditions.

Statistics like this got myself and my MD Matt Collingwood thinking about what we should be doing at VIQU to support our own team.

I’ve always found VIQU to be a very supportive and encouraging place to work, but I know from my personal experiences with mental health what it’s like to feel isolated in a working environment. People should always be able to express themselves, but some people don’t feel like they can. Therefore, I thought it was very important to establish formal communication channels that address mental health and wellbeing, so everyone at VIQU feels encouraged and empowered to open up about how they are feeling.

I volunteered myself as VIQU’s Mental Health First Aid Champion. My first task in my new role was to attend a two day mental health first aid course, which was conducted by Steps to Work. I found the course to be very informative and it provided me with a great insight into mental health and how it can impact anyone. I learnt about the different mental health problems people can have and how best to provide support to people on a first aid basis.

I came back to VIQU with a clear vision of what we needed to implement immediately within the business. I took it upon myself to create a mental health and wellbeing policy, which after receiving Matt’s thoughts, I detailed in a separate action plan to Time to Change. After a couple of weeks, we received a positive email from Time to Change, approving our plan. We were then invited to organise a date for us to sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge.

This pledge signifies VIQU’s commitment to implementing and maintaining the action plan. It’s easy to have a policy that gathers dust in a cupboard or sits in a shared folder never to be read again… but that’s not the position we’re taking. We’ll be constantly reviewing the policy, asking team members to feedback and contribute any ideas they have on how VIQU can support them better.

One year from now, I hope that this pledge and our efforts to raise awareness of mental health will have had a positive impact on the team, encouraging open discussion of mental health, a lower employee absence level and a general improvement in happiness among the team.

I found the statistics linking mental health conditions and absences from the workplace to be shocking and sad. As a business, VIQU has always had a strong team-centric mentality, so creating an action plan for the Time to Change Employer Pledge was a positive step in the right direction. I am proud of the dedication Lauren has displayed throughout this process and I know she’ll continue to work hard to support her peers.

Matt Collingwood

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