Mental health and emotional wellbeing
It’s now been six months since we launched Heart & Soul, our strategy and plan for mental health and emotional wellbeing. Six months in, the initiative is going strong and still evolving. We’ve had the chance to tweak it; We’ve added a program here and removed a training there, and all-in-all it’s clear that these are issues that engage our employees. It’s also clear that this initiative makes a real difference.
The aim of Heart & Soul is to create a safe environment where our employees feel there is acceptance, knowledge, sensitivity to mental health issues, and a culture where we take care of ourselves and each other.
A healthy environment is created from the inside and out
We believe this can only be fully achieved by building the acceptance on the inside first, and that true impact and success in this area can only be achieved if we drive it together with our employees. That’s why, from the very beginning, building a strong ambassador team has been key. Heart & Soul is not just an HR initiative, it’s a grand plan driven together with and by our employees. HR provides the guidance and the framework but the ambassadors have autonomy to drive local initiatives that are relevant for their local office or team, and the reality they live in.
Ambassadors that make a real difference
The ambassador role is on top of these individual’s day-to-day jobs and they’ve been selected to be part of the team because they are passionate about mental health and believe they can make a difference and contribute.
One great effect the ambassadors have had is to reduce stigma. Just by standing up and being an ambassador they send the message that mental health issues are something we need to accept and work on, not hide and ignore. The stigma connected to mental health differs a lot across countries and regions so it is impossible to have one single global approach. But the ambassadors know their organization and their surroundings, so they know what works. This has proven to be incredibly valuable in our work so far. One of Heart & Soul’s core principles is that everything we do must be authentic, and understanding local needs and realities is key for authenticity.
What we’ve learned: Go for local Heart and real Soul
So our ambassadors play a vital role in both understanding the local reality and driving Heart & Soul locally. And this is probably the most important learning of our work so far: Local connection and real people working close to the organization are key. Heart & Soul looked impressive on paper, but ambassadors took it and ran with it and made it into something that is real and wonderful. We are very proud and very grateful for that.