How to run a mental health workshop at work

Jo Hooper

It can be hard to know what to do about mental health at work and where to start, so in this post I’ll give you my top tips for running a mental health workshop in your workplace.

mental health workshop

Starting with who, it’s best to go for your managers. These are the people who will be looking after teams and will most benefit from a workshop.

It’s best to keep numbers to 10 maximum. Any more and it will be difficult to manage the discussion and make sure everyone gets something out of the session.

Structuring your mental health workshop

Thinking about mental health at work can be complicated. I use a very simple model, which you can use to structure the session:

Understand how mental health can affect people at work

  • Use human stories of people who struggle with their own mental health to help everyone understand what it can be like
  • Consider an anonymous staff survey to understand how your own people’s mental health is affected – use quotes and insights from this as part of the session
  • Discuss the key insights as a group – consider how a person’s work may be affected by their mental health from what the group now knows

Talk about mental health at work

  • According to the CIPD Wellness at Work report, many managers are not comfortable having a conversation with someone about their mental health
  • Discuss as a group what might make people worried to talk to an employee about their mental health
  • Discuss what support managers might need to overcome these concerns
  • Use examples of how communication can affect people’s mental health. I have a short video that you can use here; or use insights from your staff survey
  • Discuss ideas to raise awareness of mental health in your workplace – I have a free resource here for this

Taking action to tackle mental health in your workplace

  • To close the session, discuss as a group what action the company needs to take to support managers and those struggling at work
  • This could include: providing resources to support conversations; company-wide communication and engagement campaigns to raise awareness; better promotion of support available; or training refreshers each year
  • Discuss what action managers will take as a result of the session (and staff survey if you held one)
  • Consider making these commitments public through the company intranet, noticeboard or in team meetings

A few ice breaker ideas

Set up a whiteboard with headings for how people feel that day (great, OK, meh, a bit rubbish, pretty crap) and ask people to write their names on the back of a post-it note and stick it next to the feeling that resonates with them that day. Have a discussion around how people are doing.

Ask people to write a few words about their best day and their worst day at work – focused on how those days made them feel. Have a discussion about each scenario – pulling out feelings of stress or overwhelm and use this as a starter to discuss how people are dealing with stress at work.

mental health workshop

Mental health workshop reminders

Make it interactive

This isn’t a topic people can learn by rote. To really absorb the information and think about how they can apply it, people need to talk, discuss, work through issues together

Make it action orientated

You want people to take away things that they can implement straight away. Ask everyone what three things they will do as a result of the session

Create a safe space

This is a sensitive topic and people may want to share their own experiences, or those of people they know. Allow people to do this without judgement, but with thanks for their sharing

Have reflection time

People will need time to absorb the information and consider how they could use it – ensure there are short breaks in the agenda

Follow it up

It’s vital that this isn’t simply a tick box exercise, but part of your ongoing training programme. Follow up with attendees – how useful was it, how actionable was it, what could be improved?

Ensure as you hire new managers they also attend a workshop

Want more help with a mental health workshop?

If you’d like a bit more support, do get in touch. I run bespoke workshops for various clients and can build a session to suit you.

You might also like:

To keep up to date with advice, info, events and resources, join the club newsletter here or click on the image below.

Leave a Reply