Wavemaker UK offers mental health first aiders support and guidance

Wavemaker mental health Global media agency Wavemaker, which employs 430 staff at its London and Manchester offices, introduced mental health first aiders to the business in 2019.

The selected employees were publicised to the rest of the organisation with physical posters in common areas to ensure everyone knew their names and contact information, as well as a shared email address to ensure that requests would not go unanswered.

Two years later, Wavemaker became part of parent organisation and marketing communications services group WPP’s mental health allies programme. This is available to all of the group’s staff and aims to reduce the stigma around mental health by encouraging open conversations.

More than 250 employees volunteered from WPP’s agencies across the world and received training from Mental Health at Work.

Ensuring that the mental health allies’ purpose is correctly communicated and that everyone is aware of the volunteers, are important factors for the organisation, explains Kemi Oduniyi, talent development partner at Wavemaker UK.

“Mental health allies are part of our wider focus on prioritising mental wellbeing in the workplace,” she explains. “Despite our best efforts or interventions, sometimes we need a little support, and that’s normal. It’s natural for things to ebb and flow, particularly at a time when uncertainty is so prevalent.

“We are proud to have several support services to signpost our employees to in case they ever need talking therapies, including Nabs, Bupa and Telus Health. However, we also recognise that there are instances where having a confidential and open conversation with a friendly peer, who understands the workings of our agency and can offer a listening ear, can be just as effective.”

The agency’s people experience team can offer advice to the mental health allies if they ever feel overwhelmed or need more guidance when supporting a colleague; the allies also have access to a community to share and learn best practices. In addition, they are encouraged to flag any instances that could escalate beyond their training and cause harm to a colleague.

“Having certified mental health allies who are easy to reach and willing to listen is a true declaration of [our] commitment to the wellbeing of [our] people,” concludes Oduniyi. “Making this investment signals that their voice and concerns are valid and important, and that there is a space for them to be heard inside and outside of the organisation.”