Emma Raducanu’s victory at the US Open last weekend shows us all the importance of looking after our mental health. Despite the pressure of training alongside her studies, Emma’s ability to prioritise her wellbeing enabled her to excel at her game and achieve something that very few people do.

However, for many of us that are focused on a dream, it can be difficult to put ourselves first. This is no more apparent than in the social enterprise sector, where passion and purpose can often lead to individuals carrying heavy workloads and neglecting self-care.

Mental Health First Aid England recently surveyed 101 social enterprises about their approach to mental health and wellbeing. Whilst the organisations ranged in size and revenue, the findings were very consistent.100% of participants confirmed that mental health does impact their social enterprise, and an astounding 32% said it impacted their ability to deliver services.

There is no doubt that the last 18 months have been difficult for everyone. However, the research showed that there were a number of common themes contributing to stress in the social enterprise sector. 32% of the participants surveyed said that extreme levels of commitment often led to them working extended hours at the expense of their wellbeing. Many of those in leadership roles described high levels of anxiety regarding the financial security of their staff during the pandemic, which has been driven by worries about cash flow and reduced opportunities to fundraise.

For many social enterprises, it can often be difficult to know where to start and what support to offer, particularly where the social enterprise is small or newly established, or where capacity is limited. However, in my view, if mental health issues are not addressed, this will impact productivity and limit the organisation's ability to achieve its objectives. As one of the participants said, “if we don’t support our staff, our staff can’t support our customers”.

Supporting mental health and wellbeing does not need to be time-consuming or expensive. Social Enterprise UK has suggested 10 fantastic top tips for making a practical difference on a budget:

  1. Lead by example and practice self-care.
  2. Create a mental health policy that shows it is ok to share if you are struggling and signposts who to go to for support or provides a list of external websites and phone numbers.
  3. Start every 121 with a question about a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
  4. Introduce wellness action plans for every employee. Mind has some free guides to wellness action plans which can be found here.
  5. Carry out stress risk assessments to identify and minimise stressors in the workplace.
  6. Include questions around mental health and wellbeing in employee surveys.
  7. Provide training for all staff and managers on mental health awareness. If budget is an issue, consider doing this through a book club or learning club.
  8. Promote resources and articles on different aspects of mental health through internal communications.
  9. Encourage downtime by promoting meeting free lunchtimes and email free evenings and weekends.
  10. Appoint staff wellbeing champions and talk to them regularly about mental health issues.

If you would value a discussion about how you can support the mental health and wellbeing or your staff, then please do get in touch.