2020 has undoubtedly been a year unlike any other – as the coronavirus pandemic has brought unparalleled stress and forced people around the world to adjust their lifestyles and routines, there has been a strong and growing spotlight on mental health.
Yesterday, at Spotify, we acknowledged World Mental Health Day. We used the occasion to raise awareness about, and celebrate the importance of, mental health support. We take an approach of encouraging Spotifiers to speak about their struggles so they can be supported, and also because sharing allows people to relate to each other and builds role models, encouraging everyone to take care of themselves and each other.
Mental well-being for everyone
At Spotify, we’ve been embracing and supporting the mental health of our employees from the beginning. And in August 2018, we formalised this ethos by launching Heart & Soul – a mental health initiative built on a local ambassador program. The overarching aim is to create a safe, stigma-free environment where there’s acceptance, support and knowledge on mental health and mental health issues.
Not feeling well has a strong impact on how we can grow as humans, how we perform at work and how we affect society as a whole. Dealing with these issues can be difficult – they’re deep-rooted and we all experience mental health differently, but as a workplace we have a responsibility to our people, to our business and to society to work with these things. As challenging as it is, avoidance and turning a blind eye is not cool and very costly; for the individual, the team, the company, and society. And more importantly, as humans, we have a desire to make things better and look after each other.
Since launching Heart & Soul, we’ve trained many of our ambassadors in Mental Health First Aid, we’ve provided our employees with self-care support such as the meditation app Headspace, All The Feels (our employee assistance program), and an online self-care hub created by our ambassadors. We’ve also been running seminars on topics such as stress, anxiety, sleep, resilience and compassion.
We’re really proud of all that we’ve achieved since launching two years ago, and now we’d like to shine a light on the fact that everyone, even if not suffering from a mental illness per se, needs daily maintenance of their mental well-being.
Our personal lives and professional lives are not separate. Band members who don’t feel a need to hide parts of themselves when they enter a work environment, and who feel safe to speak out, are much more likely to spot mental health issues and get the support they need before it’s gone too far. It’s not necessarily about being unhealthy – it’s about each and every one of us knowing our mental state and how it’s affected, and can affect our work, and the people around us.
Celebrating World Mental Health Day at Spotify
This year, to recognise World Mental Health Day, we doubled down on spreading the ethos of each and every one of us taking care of our mental well-being, each and every day. The current situation of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity has shown that everyone needs mental health support of varying degrees. Therefore, we believe this is the right time to step up our strategy and show that whilst the annual 10th October is the day the world observes mental health, our philosophy at Spotify is that every day is a mental health day.
Yesterday, we provided our band members with a day of virtual programming featuring recognised mental health experts, advocates and workshops for Spotify employees around the globe. The content was built around the concept of being a catalyst to create a commitment to look after ourselves as best as we can, by creating good habits and paying regular attention to our bodies, much like we do with exercising, nutrition and other areas of our well-being. Encouraging us all to pay attention to mental health, all year round.
Another strong theme was speaking about our struggles so we can be supported, as well as enabling everyone to take care of themselves and each other. Sharing really is caring. On that theme, the day was opened by Daniel, our CEO, who role-modelled by introducing the theme and sharing some of his own personal experiences. Mental health starts with each individual and their understanding of the importance of looking after their mental well-being, and then finding what works for them. We know it’s not a one size fits all – for some it’s alone time, for others setting clear boundaries, and so on. No matter what is helping Spotifiers, we want them to walk away feeling inspired to take action to look after themselves. So the rest of the day allowed Spotifiers to choose between learning new skills, deepening existing self-care practices, and opening up to important conversations, including employee panels where employees and leaders are speaking up about their personal struggles with mental health.
Of course, we can never know the full impact that each of these experiences have on each individual band member, since we all have different experiences and circumstances that make us more or less likely to be affected by mental health struggles. However, we know that around 30% of our employees took part yesterday in some way. And we also know that by striving to create a culture where we take care of ourselves and of each other means that we’re encouraging all our employees to be their best selves, all the time.
We hope with the day’s activities we were able to remove some stigma – mental health is not about those who suffer with a diagnosed mental illness, it’s about all of us. By removing stigma, people start opening up, realising we are not alone and can start supporting each other. Let’s take that much-needed deep breath, and keep sharing and caring (for ourselves and for each other), each and every day.