Started MHFA training
Staff trained so far
One of Britain’s biggest broadcasters, employing 800 staff at four offices across the UK, Channel 4 is known for its commitment to diversity. Stephanie Cox, Head of HR at Channel 4 says: “Diversity is part of our remit; we are known for showcasing ground-breaking content that breaks taboos and challenges conventional thinking – and sure that our colleague training and support reflects what we broadcast to the nation.”
2016 was Channel 4’s Year of Disability, a major commitment to increasing the representation of disabled people within the broadcasting industry, timed to coincide with Channel 4’s status as official Paralympic broadcaster. Raising awareness around mental health fitted perfectly into this narrative, and Channel 4 rolled out Mental Health First Aid Training for the first time: over 60 staff completed the two day course and became Mental Health First Aiders.
“We are known for showcasing ground-breaking content that breaks taboos and challenges conventional thinking – and we want to make sure that our colleague training and support reflects what we broadcast to the nation.”
For Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, Channel 4 rolled out a more ambitious programme of events. Further Mental Health First Aid Training took place during the week itself, with additional training scheduled for later in the year too.
Attention-grabbing mental health statistics were shared via all-staff emails, intranet messages, and digital display units within the workplace. There was a series of lunchtime talks on topics such as mental health, young people and technology; mindfulness and meditation; and mental health coping strategies for adults.
The Mental Health First Aiders who were trained during 2016 also came together and launched an internal network, under the name 4Mind, with an intranet page and communications about the ways that they can support staff.
All of this activity was also reflected on-screen, as mental health campaigners like Ruby Wax, Stephen Fry, and Alastair Campbell took over continuity announcing duties for the week.
Claire Naik, Internal Communications Manager, says: "By understanding and influencing what different internal groups were doing, we were able to create a clear, cohesive message to the business. We brought together lots of different strands and the
end result was a simple and memorable message about the importance of managing your mental health."
Mental Health First Aid training has proved extremely beneficial to staff at Channel 4. Every attendee surveyed agreed both that the training has helped them understand how to support a colleague who might have mental health issues, and that the training helped them understand how to look after their own mental health.
The lunchtime sessions were also hugely powerful in raising awareness of a wide variety of mental health issues. 88% of surveyed attendees agreed that they had learnt how to spot potential signs of mental health issues, 93% agreed that they would incorporate
mindfulness/meditation techniques into their work or personal routines, and 78% agreed that they had learnt more about the challenges social media and technology pose to young people’s mental health.
Mental Health First Aid training has become embedded within Channel 4’s learning and development offering. Ed Smyth, Learning and Talent Manager, said “Mental health is vital for creativity and innovation. It helps people thrive and be the best they can be.”
There has been an increased demand for Mental Health First Aid training, particularly from line managers, whilst 4Mind, the network of internal Mental Health First Aiders, hopes to increase its internal presence and visibility.
“We want to make it a conversation to discuss in a positive and preventative way and encourage people to be proud of their mental health.”
Ed hopes that this will continue to help employees to find it easier to talk about mental health and seek support if they need it. He concludes: “The belief is always that something has gone wrong, whereas we want to make it a conversation to discuss in a positive and preventative way and encourage people to be proud of their mental health.”