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Alex Devanney, one of our Residential Service Managers, discusses the importance of communication between staff about their mental health wellbeing as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

As a manager, I feel that within my service I play a key role in creating and maintaining a positive and open team culture that also supports mental health wellbeing. I as many others am no expert when it comes to mental health, I have studied the range of conditions etc. academically to some degree, however my knowledge stems mainly through life experiences.

Through these I feel I can help support the staff team I have within my service to be able to be comfortable enough to have open and honest conversations with me regarding any mental health problems they may be experiencing, also ensuring they feel comfortable in the knowledge that any discussion we have is in a safe and confidential environment.

This then enables me to look at providing the right levels of support I can give to that individual, whether it be adjusting their levels of workload, any changes to working practices or just being a ‘sounding board’ for them to come to and open up about how they are feeling.

To be able to have an open door policy I feel is key to maintaining a positive and open team culture, all staff have regular supervisions and are able to discuss any issues they have within this time, however the open door policy I have enables my staff team to know they don’t have to wait for these times to be able to talk with me. My staff team are then able to feel more positive about engaging with me regarding personal issues and knowing when to ask for help as they know I will support them in the best way I can.

As an organization we also have introduced an employee assistance programme which all of my staff team are aware of and know they can access at any time. The programme is provided by an independent professional employee assistance provider and has a free phone number that staff can use should they feel they need further help or assistance. Within this service they have councilors available to speak with the individual regarding a vast range of problems which they feel they need to discuss.

The availability of this service in conjunction with the openness and positive team culture I promote within my service have helped the staff morale, health and wellbeing of the team within my service.