10th October is World Mental Health Day. The theme for 2016 set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

Three years ago, I signed up to train as a Mental Health First Aider. The excellent training, provided by Mind in Bristol, has enabled me to provide immediate help to both colleagues and friends in distress, as well as running workshops to raise awareness of looking after our own and others' mental wellbeing.

HR professionals are often the first port of call when a member of staff is suffering from stress. However we are also ideally placed to take proactive action, working with managers to look at job design, life work balance, workplace culture and behaviours.

According to Mental Health Foundation, depression is set to become the leading illness globally by 2030, unless urgent action is taken. Recent research by CIPD published in July 2016 shows that whilst a third of people are affected by mental health issues during their working lives, less than half of those affected would feel confident talking to their employer about the problem. The research also highlights very low levels of training for line managers to support colleagues' mental wellbeing. 

Are you talking about mental health in your workplace? My one day Mental Health Awareness workshop brings people together to learn about signs and symptoms of different common mental health conditions, look at potential sources of stress and how to mitigate them and how to look after our own and others' wellbeing. 

In the meantime, these are 5 recommended steps to wellbeing from the NHS - why not try one of these today?

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.
  • Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Mindfulness for mental wellbeing.

Remember to do something nice for yourself today. 

Thanks for reading.

Kathryn Roynon chartered MCIPD FIRP

Director, Kathryn Roynon HR & Training Consultancy


For more information about mental health awareness workshops for your organisation, contact Kathryn Roynon HR & Training Consultancy on 01249 701486


NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing:


CIPD Employee Outlook Focus on Mental Health in the Workplace (2016):


More information on World Mental Health Day: