From education to employment

Novatech staff work together to combat the stigma around mental health in the workplace

Thursday 6th February marks #TimeToTalk Day. A day that brings the nation together to start talking and help break the silence around mental health problems. However, local technology firm, Novatech, believes it will take more than one dedicated day a year to dismantle the stigma completely.

Back in 2019, the technology firm embarked on their journey to help get people talking about mental health in the workplace. This journey started when Novatech employees arrived at work on the 10th of October to find a small gift on their desk.

Novatech surprised every member of their workforce with a goodie bag containing a gym pass for Fareham Leisure Centre, detox tea bags, self-help guidebooks, MIND awareness cards and the Time To Talk well-being guide, as well as some perfume and aftershave samples, kindly donated by John Lewis.

Staff at Novatech also had the chance to speak to Fareham Leisure Centre staff, where they discussed the importance of exercise on both physical and mental health, as well as undergoing personal health checks.

Novatech’s commitment to getting people talking didn’t stop there. Last week, 6 members of their staff attended a two-day course to become qualified mental health first aiders. The interactive two-day course provided knowledge and tools to effectively deal with mental health in the workplace. It covered all areas of mental health, from discrimination and injustice, right through to cognitive behavioural therapy and listening skills.

Ian Hurst, Managing Director at We Are HummingbIrd Health commented on his time training the Novatech staff, saying, “It is always an honour to be in a position where I can help educate and contribute to ending the stigma that still sadly surrounds mental illness. The team from Novatech really were a positive and engaged cohort, who are clearly motivated to create a safe, understanding and nurturing environment for employees.

Being armed now with the tools and skills to effectively spot the signs and with the confidence to signpost and provide assistance to those in distress, I am confident that they will see the benefits of the training almost instantly.”

With statistics showing that 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental health problems at some point throughout their lives, businesses need to start supporting their employees. All managers at Novatech will be receiving similar training within the coming weeks, to help with early interventions.

Head Of Human Resources at Novatech, Harriet Whitren-Jones commented, “Mental health in the workplace is such an important area for any business, which requires time and dedication. Mental ill-health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK and currently, 12.5 million working days are lost each year due to mental health issues. At Novatech, we are on a journey to ensure we fully support and encourage our employees to look after their mental health and well-being, and remove any barriers to achieve this.”

As part of our well-being agenda, it’s critical for our success that we not only have mental health first aiders in the workplace, but that all of our people managers are trained, with the tools and confidence to be able to spot issues and address concerns early on.”

Harriet also explained that as a part of this agenda, Novatech has recently introduced three additional short-notice annual leave days, meaning that, should an employee need time off, they can have it approved at a moment’s notice. Alongside this, Novatech are in the process of creating a “well-being room,” creating a safe, private space that staff can visit if they need some time to breathe.

“I think that for all of us here at Novatech, it’s a given that mental ill-health needs to be addressed, not just in the short-term, but the long-term too. It doesn’t just affect one individual – within a business, it affects us all. We want our employees to feel safe, not only among their peers, but within the workplace too. Our dedication represents our belief that mental health need not be stigmatised but embraced.”


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