EXCLUSIVE: Kohler Mira hosts two-week mental health awareness event

Kohler Mira

EXCLUSIVE: Shower manufacturer and plumbing organisation Kohler Mira hosted a two-week mental health awareness event for 850 UK staff in November 2018, to kick start its mental health resilience strategy.

The two-week event, which ran between 5 and 16 November 2018, was designed to help create a more open culture that encourages mental health conversations, typically a challenge for the male-dominated organisation.

Nicki Burge, HR manager, operations at Kohler Mira, said: “We’ve done previous wellbeing events, but we hadn’t done anything this specific about one thing before, so this was our opportunity to really focus on mental health because it’s such a big topic.

“We’re right at the start of our journey, but we are trying to build an approach to mental health. We want to create a culture where people can be a true version of themselves and only in creating an environment where people [can] open up and talk, [can we] achieve that.”

The mental health awareness event, which used the strapline ‘it’s okay’, featured videos from the organisation’s executive team, as well as yoga and meditation sessions and leaflets on employees’ desks. These desk drops explained how to spot signs of mental ill health in others, as well as how to manage personal mental health.

The event also offered half-day mental health awareness training that employees could sign up to attend. These sessions discussed the signs of potential mental ill health, what this could mean and how employees could support each other. The organisation also promoted its 24-hour counselling line.

Continuing this focus on mental health, Kohler Mira is going to be training 16 mental health first aiders in January 2019, who will be based at the organisation’s two UK sites in Cheltenham and Hull. The mental health first aid training was made available to all employees from across every area of the business.

Burge believes the mental health first aiders will have a dual role: being there to listen to employees if they need to talk to someone, and further raising awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace. For example, by having a mental health first aider in every monthly team briefing meeting.

“I want it to become drumbeat activity,” she explained. “I want to get that regular message [out] about it being okay to talk, being okay to not be okay.”

To date, Kohler Mira’s mental health activity has been communicated using videos from the executive team, announcements in team briefing meetings, messages via emails and on TV screens around the business, as well as through desk drop leaflets.

The organisation is currently writing its wellbeing strategy; this will have a key focus on mental health awareness and resilience. With this in mind, Burge plans to increase the number of mental health-related activities, to perhaps include three or four events a year, such as workshops or drop-in sessions.

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Burge added: “We’ve done pockets of activity for the last five years. We’re working on the wellbeing strategy at the moment, but the focus of that wellbeing strategy is mental health awareness and resilience. I think they go hand in hand really. We really do want to create a culture where people can be themselves.

“We are a manufacturing business, 70% male, so it’s how we can now really encourage everyone to talk and everyone to be themselves. That’s the next step for us, taking it that little bit further. It just lets everyone be a bit more open.”