Six staff with large art paper illustrating mental health

Communications Team can play a vital role in increasing understanding and awareness about mental health. National and international days dedicated to health matters provide an opportunity to encourage conversations and highlight good projects and support services available.

Martha Nahar talks with the CIPR Local Public Services group about the approach used in the NHS Trust she works in London.

A logo with NHS in blue on a white background and the name of the trust in white on a blue backgroundAs a Trust caring for those with mental health issues, World Mental Health Day was a much-anticipated event for West London Mental Health NHS Trust’s Communications. The team is led by CIPR Past President Sally Sykes FCIPR Chart PR (Founding). We were keen to continue the conversation about mental health in what has been an extraordinary year for raising awareness, removing stigma and being open about mental well-being.

Six staff with large art paper illustrating mental healthWe placed a call for stories via our intranet, making staff aware of the day well in advance. We were able to source a story from one of our staff members who wanted to talk about the fantastic support and help she had received from the Trust’s Occupational Health department. This was extremely important for our communications strategy with the story fitting in with this year’s theme: mental health in the workplace. It resulted in coverage in local media and internally, and many staff members were full of praise for Jo, thanking her for sharing her story.

Sharing personal stories can help us tackle
the stigma that we strive to challenge

One staff member commented on the story when it was published on our intranet:
“Thank you Jo for sharing your story. Well done to all the team and colleagues who supported you.” Another member of staff said Jo had been “incredibly brave and courageous” for sharing her story with fellow colleagues.

The Head of Communications, Dominic Benson, also used the intranet as a space to highlight the need for more staff to share their stories, saying: “In our experience the most powerful stories are the ones where people share their own experiences. Not only is it a brave thing to do, it also helps us to tackle the stigma that we strive to challenge.”

two staff talking in front of a sign saying human library is open
Staff taking part in the ‘Human Library’

Staff responded to this call for stories about events, from ‘tea and talk’ gatherings to a football tournament, a ‘Human Library’ event (where you ‘borrow’ a person to talk about their story rather than a book), two of our senior clinicians sharing their experiences of meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and Alastair Campbell at Buckingham Palace.

> Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – human library video





Brentford FC CST + WLMHT 10k walk and talk event 358

We also able to feature a 10km walk to celebrate mental health day, which was supported by our local Mayor.

Colleagues at Broadmoor High Secure Hospital also organised a ‘Mental health around the world’ event as well as another gathering of staff and patients with an afternoon of games, cake and music.

The Communications team was passionate and enthusiastic about sharing these events and stories, promoting them both internally, via our intranet, and externally, on our website and social media profiles.


Social to raise awareness

We knew that social media would be key to raising awareness in the lead up and on World Mental Health Day. A week before, we ran a mental health book giveaway on Twitter which proved very popular. We wanted to give someone a chance to win something from our account (@WLMHT), something we had not done before, and used this competition as a way of reminding followers old and new that we were still human!

Through running this book giveaway on Twitter, it received nearly 300 retweets, led to an increase of more than 200 followers and 14,000 impressions. The book was picked by an independent person, The winner of the book titled ‘Chase the Rainbow’, said: “Oh my goodness, I think I could possibly cry. This was the best notification to see on World Mental Health Day, especially during a particularly poor depression slump. Books that have anything to do with mental health mean the world to me – and I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to read what I know will be a beautiful book. Thank you so so much.” The social results for such a modest and relevant competition prize were really value for money and drove good engagement with our content.

On a budget of about £500, we joined a global conversation about mental health on World Mental Health Day and promoted the fantastic work our staff do every day.

Blog by Martha Nahar, who led on communications for World Mental Health Day at the Trust.
Martha is Communications Officer at West London Mental Health NHS Trust, in Southall.

More on mental health awareness at WLMH NHS Trust

> How staff in the trust came together to highlight mental health (WLMH NHS Trust website, 2017)

Photo credits: © 2017 West London Mental Health NHS Trust and Brentford FC CST

> Follow the Trust on Twitter @wlmht

> West London Mental Health NHS Trust videos on YouTube

Mental toughness and personal resilience webinar 

5 December 2017, 6.30pm Book your space on the ‘Mental toughness and personal resilience’ a CPD webinar with trainers AQR Ltd, organised by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Southern and CIPR Local Public Services Group.

Improve your mental toughness and personal resilience in this webinar. Team building and leadership development company AQR International and a panel of experienced managers and practitioners will explore the importance of these attributes. This CPD event is being developed with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Local Public Services group and the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) Southern region.

The webinar follows on from the research by the CIPR LPS group and Manchester Metropolitan University in 2015-2016 which highlighted personal resilience as a key attribute for communicators and senior managers. It will address feedback from members who attended CMI Southern’s previous professional development events on change management and managing conflict in the workplace. In response to requests from members in both Institutes, this webinar will be part of a series of materials on resilience.

If you have a case study or tips for resources to accompany this webinar, please contact the organising team.


More about the speaker

The speaker wearing glasses, white shirt and a beige jacketIn recent years, Doug Strycharczyk has worked with Professor Peter Clough, of Manchester Metropolitan University, to define mental toughness and to create a measurement for it. Together they have written a number of books and articles on the topic.

Doug (pictured) is recognised as an authority on the application of mental toughness in the work of coaching, performance, education and sport. He works with organisations to develop performance, increase retention, improve employee engagement, and to deal more effectively with issues such as bullying and the impact of change. He also focuses on organisational development, senior management and leadership development.

He has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of line management, HR and consultancy roles with a number of blue chip businesses.


More mental health campaigns

We will be featuring more on the FuturePRoof report on mental health in the profession, published in 2017 in December, together with additional case studies of communication campaigns raising awareness. Contact us if you would like to submit a case study or signpost useful resources.