How we’re building an inclusive, open culture around mental health 

We want the culture at FSS to be inclusive, and we’re keen to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health. Our aim is to create a safe space where people feel able to ask for support when they need it.

Since 2018, we’ve been working hard to improve our existing health and wellbeing initiatives – and to create new ones. Our efforts were given a boost when Darren Gibson, our now not-so-new Executive Director, took up post in 2022. 

We have taken lots of steps to put this into practice, and Mental Health Awareness Week (taking place this year from 15 to 21 May) gives us an annual opportunity to shine an extra-bright spotlight on the topic.

Read on to find out what we’re doing this week – and throughout the year – to support the mental health of everyone at Frontier Science Scotland.

Making the most of Mental Health Awareness Week

Each year we put together a programme of events for FSS employees during Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). There are fun events like online quizzes, bike rides, coffee catch-ups and wild swims. We also load our intranet with helpful resources about the MHAW theme for that year, which in 2023 is ‘anxiety’. If you would like some tips on how to cope with anxiety, there’s an excellent article on the Mental Health Foundation website.

Our mental health first aiders

Lots of workplaces – including ours – have physical health first aiders. Since 2019, we have also had accredited mental health first aiders (MHFAs). Six Frontier Science employees, some office-based, others home-based, are currently trained up to deliver mental health first aid to colleagues.

Our MHFAs are not therapists, and they’re not trying to replace a qualified health professional. So what can they do? They are trained to spot the signs of stress and early symptoms for those who require mental health support and can offer assistance when required.. They can help prevent the worsening of an existing condition and promote the recovery of good mental health. They can comfort a person experiencing distress and share an understanding of mental health issues among the wider team. A large part of their role is to signpost anyone who is struggling to an appropriate resource.

Having these MHFAs has the added benefit of highlighting to our people that we take mental health very seriously.

The FSS Health and Wellbeing Committee

We have a Health and Wellbeing Committee that regularly meets to discuss current measures, brainstorm ideas for improvement, and suggest new ideas. One such idea was to participate in the Step Count Challenge, which has been inspiring some healthy competition at Frontier Science Scotland and providing lots of fun along the way. Our participation in the October 2022 Challenge saw brilliant results: 25 members participated across five teams, and our most active team came 13th nationally — an outstanding achievement.

Supporting mental health through our workplace policies
As well as our Health and Wellbeing Committee, Mental Health Awareness Week activities and Mental Health First Aiders, we have many year-round initiatives to promote good long-term mental health. These include a Bike to Work scheme, tuition reimbursement, generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working and gym reimbursement.

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