When asked what day is today, some of you will say it’s Friday, or the 10th of October, or the day before the weekend, or your birthday and the list can go on. None of these answers are wrong, but, now more than ever, it is essential for each of us to be reminded that today is The World Mental Health Day. Since 1992, The World Mental Health Day has been celebrated on every 10th of October in order to raise awareness about this topic.

Considering everything that has been happening this year, it is even more important for us to mark this date in our calendars and look for solutions to help us and the people around us to keep our morals up. According to a study done my MIND, this year over 16.000 people had their mental health negatively affected by the lockdown. With the fear of losing someone dear, the disappointment of having to cancel our plans or the frustration of being stuck at home, it is no surprise that we are all struggling to stay positive. This is why companies need to make the best out of today and offer their employees as much support as possible.

At Vianet, we decided to bring a fun twist to this occasion. Our dear colleague from HR, Emily Fell, came up with a fun and (literally) sweet idea to celebrate this day. Penguins! In case you’re wondering, no, we didn’t have real penguins running around the office. Instead, each employee could pick up from the reception desk a penguin biscuit to enjoy over a cup of coffee while chatting with their colleagues.

Since a lot of people had to work from home in order to maintain social distancing at the office, Emily concluded that, instead of just sending informative documents about mental health over email for people to read when and if they have time, what we actually needed right now was a bit of socialising.

It was a welcome reminder that even though we have to socially distance, we can still have a nice discussion over some coffee and what better topic of conversation than a joke about penguins. It was also a nice treat for all the employees for the amazing work they have all done during these difficult times.

‘The whole point of having a biscuit and a chat is to make people socialize with each other and remind everybody that despite everything that is happening and even though some of us need to work from home or isolate, you are not alone.’ Said Emily, the mastermind behind this idea.

It was the perfect opportunity for some of our new recruits to get to know their colleagues better and feel like they are part of our family. Barry McEvoy is a great example. With only a week since he started working for Vianet, he and his plush penguin, Pengy, became the stars of the office on the World Mental Health Day.

Tips on looking after your employees’ mental health

Because we are aware of the importance of good mental health, we thought to give you some tips on how to look after your employees’ wellbeing while following the government regulations on social distancing.

  • Encourage socialising during breaks. Just because you have to stay two meters apart, that doesn’t mean you can’t still talk to each other during lunch.
  • Make people feel appreciated. Any small gesture counts. Even if it’s a social media post, a small treat like a penguin biscuit, or a short email thanking people for their efforts, it’s important to show people how much you value their work.
  • Organise small events where the regulations can be followed. It can be an online quiz (which Vianet hosted throughout lockdown for employees to partake), a social meeting on teams, a dress up for Halloween or any activity that is fun and will get people involved.
  • Make your employees aware of the support provided by the company. Vianet has an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) which also includes mental health support for all the employees. Make sure that your workers know about your company’s programmes and where to look for help if they need to.

At Vianet, we acknowledge the impact the recent events can have on people’s mental health and we are more than eager to offer our employees all the support they need making sure everybody has a great experience working for us.