The importance of mental health in the workplace cannot be overstated. We got to know Envato's Mental Health First Aiders to learn how they provide support for employees in crisis.
At Envato, the wellbeing of employees is our priority – and mental health is a big part of that. We run an ‘always on’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which enables our people to access professional support whenever they need it, and we also have an established team of Mental Health First Aiders. Our Mental Health First Aiders are employees who’ve been trained with the skills to respond and provide assistance to other employees experiencing mental health issues.
Our Mental Health First Aiders act as a ‘go-to’ for Envato employees experiencing a mental health crisis or who need someone to talk to. They champion anti-bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace and provide support and advice on any next steps.
Claire March, Envato’s Senior People Manager explains, “The primary mission of our Mental Health First Aiders is to improve mental health literacy at Envato. It’s important for our employees to know that we support both their physical and mental wellbeing.”
“It’s also a great way to reduce stigma in the workplace; having a group of prominent Mental Health First Aiders that employees know they can talk to, and who encourage open conversation, helps change how mental health is perceived.”
The role of Mental Health First Aiders is to be an additional person for Envato team members to reach out to discuss matters they may not want to discuss with their Manager, People Partner or EAP Services. They’re specifically trained to discuss issues including, but not limited to:
The role of a Mental Health First Aider is not to provide counseling or solutions but to lend a confidential and supportive ear and assist with providing options for professional advice where necessary.
“At Envato, we understand that mental health is a continuum – it changes over time in response to different stresses and experiences,” says Claire. “We offer a range of options for employees to support their mental health journey, including flexible working, our EAP, and our recently introduced Mental Health First Aid Officers. We’re working continuously to create a safe space where mental health can be spoken about and understood.”
We met with some of our amazing Mental Health First Aiders to learn more about what they do and get a glimpse into what it’s like to be a support for employees at Envato.
Growing up, the importance of mental health was never seriously discussed around me. I feel that, in the past, this lack of knowledge and understanding made me less able to provide the assistance needed when others turned to me for help. In these situations, I found it distressing not knowing what to say or do when all I wanted to do was help. For this reason, I jumped at the chance to learn and provide better support to those around me.
Alleviate stressors by using healthy coping strategies, such as exercise or talking about how you feel. Another approach is to use the research-backed “Five Ways to Wellbeing” method to help build personal resilience to the stressors of life, which are to connect, keep learning, be active, give, and take notice.
As a mental health first aid officer, I help and support people experiencing difficulties with their mental health. MHFA’s are shoulders to lean on in a time of crisis. We help to provide that initial assistance and guidance to anyone seeking professional help and are here to listen to those in need.
Seeking professional help can be scary and daunting to some people, so having a confidential pathway where others can help guide you in the right direction can be comforting. MHFAs assist employees in seeking the right help for their needs and listen to them and help with any challenges they’re facing.
I’m a huge advocate for getting outdoors. I think it’s essential to take even 10 minutes out of your day to go outside, as it boosts energy levels and releases all those feel-good endorphins that we need more of in our lives. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous; it could simply be going for a short walk – make sure you do what you can to move your mood.
Exercise helps me care for my mental wellbeing. I love running and hiking, so making sure that I incorporate this into my everyday life is key. I also enjoy journaling; it’s so easy to get so wrapped up in your thoughts that it can be a release to get them down on paper.
For me, it’s about acknowledging that mental health difficulties impact work. By enabling us to get our Mental Health First Aid certificates, Envato is not only communicating that it is okay to struggle with mental health from time to time but also providing a means for those who are in a difficult period to get help.
Make it known that you’re available to talk to them if they need it. You could take them out for (maybe virtual) coffee and bring it up, or do something even more subtle such as referencing your mental health in standup. A simple “I’m feeling a bit anxious today” is a simple and meaningful way to signal to someone that you’re comfortable speaking on the topic.
There are also things you can do to look after your mental health every day. Practice noticing how you feel. For example, rather than jumping straight from one meeting to the next, pause in between and assess how you feel. Are you flustered? Angry? Energized? Regularly evaluating how I feel when I’m doing well helps me to notice trends and spot if I might be heading in a negative direction.
Mental Health First Aiders are all regular staff members located in various teams around the business. By providing an alternative contact point, they can encourage people to seek help earlier – instead of waiting until their mental health seems “bad enough” to try a more formal channel. Our EAP offers professional counseling services that can provide more detailed support than the first aid officers can offer. We refer people to services like the EAP when necessary.
My best advice is to be more aware of your mental health. Make it part of your routine to check how you’re doing: How are you feeling? If you’re not okay, are you concerned about it? Are you having trouble sleeping? Are small things upsetting you more than usual? Are you in control of your mood and emotions? Once you have a baseline for what “okay” feels like, you can respond faster if things start shifting to “not okay.”
I rely heavily on three things to manage my mental health and support other people with theirs: time spent outdoors, physical activity, and social connections. Sometimes these can overlap, but not always. For example, I’m pretty introverted, so I tend to charge my emotional batteries by going for a walk on my own. However, social contact is essential, and I try to spend time with people face-to-face or online as much as possible.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know our Mental Health First Aiders and learnig about our Mental Health First Aid Program! While you’re here, learn how Envato’s recognized Mental Health Month.