More employers are making mental health a priority in the workplace

Wellness organisations are “Taking you outside so you feel good on the inside” to help businesses address and improve the mental health of their workers

Introductory walk for mental health in workplace event
Leah Sian Davies, facilitator for Fresh Air Fridays, introduced the 7/11 breathing techniques to begin the wellness walk

Chwarae Teg, a company supporting women in business, and Fresh Air Fridays, an emotional and mental wellbeing company, joined forces on 29 November to host Fresh Air for Business.

The event brought together employers from across Wales to share knowledge, suggestions and networks that will help those who are dealing with mental and emotional distress at work.

At SWALEC Stadium in Sophia Gardens, event coordinators took attendees on an hour-long wellness walk around Bute Park, allowing them to switch off from the outside world and tune into themselves. 

Fresh Air Fridays’ Leah Sian Davies conducted the walk, she said, “Often we are so busy and caught up in work, that we are not always aware of our mood. Sometimes stress and emotions can build up over time and that is why people end up suffering from anxiety or depression.”

One in four people in the UK suffer from mental health issues, costing the UK economy almost £35bn in recent years. 45% of younger people are also more likely to hold back from talking about their feelings in working environments.

“We all have different ways of dealing with stress to improve our mood. For me, being outside in the day with the fresh air and just getting away from a screen helps me to not be so focused on work constantly,” Leah continued.

A recent study by Medical News Today states managers with access to mental health training in their business have a higher understanding of mental health. With this knowledge they can better improve and maintain the mental state of those they manage.

Networking after mental health discussion
Attendees take their new wellness skills indoors to explore how they can be attributed to the workplace

Speaking to attendee David Saunders, the director and physiotherapist of AgileTherapy, a multidisciplinary healthcare company in Cardiff, he said, “I came here today aiming to collaborate with the organisers. We are pushing to make the health of employees better by teaming up with other individuals outside of the healthcare realm.”

He added, “As mental health is the leading cause of absenteeism and sickness at work, we are trying to improve each individual’s health and wellbeing as much as we can.”

Words by Gina Cartwright, Ceryn Evans, Elissa About Merhi and Amy Fretwell