What I learned from running my first mental health workshop

Jo Hooper

A few weeks ago – three months into my business – I held my first mental health workshop for internal communicators, HR pros and anyone interested in wellbeing at work.

I wanted to give people a peek inside what it’s like to realise your mental health is deteriorating at work; how you can support people to look after themselves and how you can start to confidently communicate around mental health in the workplace.

I thought I’d share my learnings and top tips to help you run something similar in your workplace.

So what did I do?

I designed an interactive day with zero powerpoint, as I wanted it to feel a bit different to your usual training day in a boardroom. 

I was lucky to find an amazing venue in SMUG in Camden – a unique shop and cafe with a fantastic, light and bright workshop space upstairs.

mental health workshop

One of the things that has hit me over the last four months of working for myself is that many of the challenges around mental health at work stem from fear.

Fear of judgement; concern that you may say the wrong thing; fear of the unknown; fear of what might happen if you’re honest. 

So I wanted to share real human insight into what it can be like to struggle with your mental health in the workplace and how communication can affect you, to show the human face of the issue. 

I developed two short videos with input from three other people being very honest about their mental health.

I also wanted to create a safe, relaxed and creative atmosphere, so the whole day was interactive, with discussions and brainstorms, guided by worksheets I’d created. 

I even baked brownies – for that personal touch!

mental health workshop

What I’ll be taking into my next mental health workshop

  • Smaller is better – we had a small group and it worked well. These are sensitive topics and I want to make sure everyone in the group is comfortable. So I’ll be making sure I keep group sizes small
  • There’s a lot to cover! – I tried to pack a lot into the day, we could have spent hours understanding and discussing each issue. So I’ve developed three different types of workshops I’ll be running from now on, to make sure we’re as focused as possible
  • Communication is key – two of those workshops are focused on communication and engagement – this is where IC pros can really make a difference and we had a fantastic session breaking down stakeholders and audiences and setting objectives for a successful comms campaign 
  • That fear is a killer – as I mentioned, fear is pervasive. I’m working on how to try and tackle this fear through all of the work I do – whether it’s advising HR teams, comms teams, running workshops and training, writing or speaking

One of the things that stuck with me – that deserves it’s own paragraph, rather than bullet point! – is that these sorts of workshops can give people more than just skills. 

The feedback I got was that the day was really motivating, interesting and energising. I just didn’t expect that and I’m thrilled.

Here’s what people said…

mental health workshop feedback

I’m going to run more workshops later this year, but I am currently  concentrating on bespoke support for IC and HR teams. 

If all this sounds interesting to you, take a look at the overview below – do click on it for more info:

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