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How to Start a Mental Health Awareness Program?

26th February 21

It can be isolating dealing with mental health issues. Especially in the workplace if nothing is in place to make you feel comfortable enough to discuss your challenges openly.

Creating a mental health awareness program can open the dialogue to enable a more supportive work environment. Positive work culture is intrinsically linked to mental health and making sure employees feel valued, safe and secure.

By initiating change through a mental health awareness program you’re highlighting the importance of mental wellbeing. This can influence the work culture and hopefully benefit everyone in the company.  

If people are struggling with their mental health it can directly impact the companies output. From higher turnover and absences to low morale and productivity. It’s within the best interest of the employer to make sure that their staff are properly supported so they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Getting Started

LD | How to Start a Mental Health Awareness Program | Getting Started

Before you can create the program itself you need to decide on what it is you’re doing exactly. Reflecting on your motivation and outlining your desired outcomes will give you clarity on what you’re trying to achieve.

What is your Motivation?

Understanding your motivation can help you identify the areas of concern. Using these insights to determine a focus and shape your goals.

Whether that’s because you or your colleagues are struggling mentally with the workload. Or you find management aren’t trained adequately to deal with challenging scenarios.

It doesn’t have to be that specific either. It could be that the general awareness around mental wellbeing in the organisation as a whole is lacking.

So, starting the conversation allows people to check-in with themselves. Along with letting them know it’s ok to ask for help at this organisation should they need it.

What is your desired Outcome?

Setting yourself a goal creates a focal point for your mental health awareness program. You know why you’re doing it and now you need to decide what needs to change and why.

When you’re pitching your program to your employers it’s important to outline the value. Especially if it requires funding for training courses or to provide everyone in the company a set number of mental health days.

There is a range of courses designed specifically for mental health in the workplace such as:

These courses can help organisations gain the skills needed to promote a positive work culture. Helping employees become more considerate of their actions. As well as giving them the right tools to support someone who is going through a difficult time.

Alternatively, you might think a policy change is necessary to support people who are going through a difficult time. Or perhaps making mental health a dedicated part of 1-2-1 meetings would be beneficial.

Deciding on what action you’d like taken helps employers understand your vision. As well as pinpointing factors that will determine whether your awareness program was successful or not.

However, if there isn’t a means to allocate a budget then you need to find ways to work around that. Finding free resources or setting up a monthly newsletter could be potential options to raise awareness and make a difference.

Creating the Program

Once you’ve finalised what your motivations are and defined your outcomes you’ll need to create the program. Figuring out how you’re going to implement the changes and present your program to your peers.

What works at a smaller organisation may not garner the same results at a large corporation. Even details like setting a date and time where everyone is available is less straightforward the bigger the company is. So, you’ll have to keep that in mind.

Small Organisations

LD | How to Start a Mental Health Awareness Program | Small Organisations

Working for a small organisation means there are fewer variables to factor in when planning your awareness program. You’re able to arrange with your colleagues directly to see when it’s best to get everyone together.

Once a date and time are agreed on you can plan your presentation.

That could mean an informal chat over an all-hands lunch. Giving people a space to understand what you’re aiming to do and ask questions about the program.

Alternatively, you could bring in a guest speaker with more in-depth knowledge of mental health to deliver a presentation. Collaborating with mental health NGOs such as Mind could be beneficial.

Mind has many bases across the UK with various ambassadors that can come into a workplace. They’ll share their experiences with mental health and discuss how they overcame such challenges. People may relate to a genuine experience better, potentially inspiring them to seek help for their own issues.

If a guest speaker isn’t available you can structure the presentation yourself. Or see if another colleague would like to support your endeavours and collaborate on a project together.

Big Organisations

Bigger organisations are harder to get everyone in one place. There may not even be the space to bring everyone together in one room.

Therefore, it’s probably a better idea to breakdown the organisation into departments. Liaising with heads of department to schedule in a timeslot where you can come talk to their team.

However, if you do end up having to do talks on different days it makes it harder to hire a guest speaker. Their schedule may not allow them to be available for all dates.  

It may also be worth speaking with the HR team and collaborating on the project. They might already have something in mind or have the means to implement your ideas. This could also mean they take over the project, but it’s more likely they’ll include you in the process.


Creating a mental health awareness campaign can positively impact your workplace. Letting your employer and colleagues know the best way moving forward to make sure everyone is valued and supported.

If you’re considering starting a mental health awareness program in your workplace learndirect can help.

learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online learning providers. Offering a broad range of mental health-related courses.

All our course material is readily available online as soon as you enrol, with dedicated tutors to support your learning. Allowing your workplace to develop the skills needed to support their employees’ mental health.

To learn more about what courses are available get in touch with an advisor our browse our courses below.

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