Solent NHS TrustHigh quality community and mental health services

Staff mental wellbeing group

Published: 16/10/2017

World Mental Health Day – 10 Oct

Staff at a local NHS organisation have formed a group aimed at making it easier for participants to talk about mental health at work so as to support one another better.

Solent NHS Trust, provider of community and specialist mental health in Southampton, Portsmouth and other parts of Hampshire, has supported its staff - who have experience of mental health problems - to develop the staff group.

Optimising the Wellbeing and Lived Experience of Staff (OWLES) was launched in September and has a current and growing membership of 35 people made up of staff from a range of professions across the organisation.

Dan Meron, Chief Medical Officer, said “As can be expected, our employees are of the upmost importance, and we are committed to helping them stay healthy and well. We really believe in creating a space where people can safely share their experiences, learn from one another and provide support to each other.

“As we mark World Mental Health Day today, we wanted to share our initiatives with others. We know from feedback we are receiving from OWLES that staff who are experiencing mental health challenges themselves or are living with family and friends with mental difficulties, benefit from having such an open, honest and supportive culture at work. We would encourage other organisations to consider similar initiatives – and we are happy to share with them our experiences to date.”

The Trust is using OWLES as one of a number of tools to tackle stigma and keep people well at work. Since its inception, the group has designed and developed a range of mental wellbeing activities, such as webinars, workshops and roadshows. These have been readily taken up by staff who have found it powerful and encouraging to listen to others’ experiences and also share their own.

People who participated to date thought that the group made a positive change and raised awareness of mental health in the workplace.

Sarah Garratt, Clinical Lead for Urgent Response Service, said: “Went along to the OWLES roadshow and I was really impressed. It was very informative with lots of great ideas for supporting people at work. Thank you.”

Sophie Gay, Patient Involvement Officer for Research and Improvement, said: “Some great work being done by our OWLES group. I came back from maternity leave to see so many improvements in the employee mental wellbeing agenda across the Trust.”

The group will be engaging with people to gain their feedback and ideas about how the Trust can continue to make a difference. End

Notes for Editors:

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