Last week, we reimagined wellbeing across the country as we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand. For Umbrella, we live and breathe mental health in our everyday work, so I’ve loved seeing my various social media feeds come alive sharing what everyone else was doing and seeing some of the awesome initiatives across workplaces.

At the core is a reminder that we all experience mental health. It’s simply part of being human. Over the week, Umbrella connected with >750 people through our training workshops, webinars and 1:1 clinical sessions. We also ran a series of free events sharing our latest research in workplace wellbeing with >225 leaders from 85 different organisations. 

As clinical psychologists, our work is evidence-based, focused on the science behind how our brain works and numerous frameworks that help us with our human reactions. In the room, our work is about listening to people’s stories, talking about what’s going on in their world, and sharing ideas to help navigate through.

Last week, I joined ten business workshops, answering leaders’ questions around designing and implementing wellbeing strategies to support team performance, alongside Dr Jeremy Robertson and Amanda Wallis from our research team, and Dr Nigel George and Gary Hewson, our clinical psychologists.  Overwhelmingly, people joined our sessions to get new ideas on how to support people as the uncertainty and change of COVID-19 continues. Alongside this was rich discussion on how to support dispersed teams (I’ve added another tip into this month’s newsletter in response), how to support teams going through change and restructure, understanding the role leaders play in building resilience alongside an individual’s responsibility, and the idea of “presenteeism”, where we can be physically at work but mentally not present in our roles.

I loved it. Thank you to everyone who joined us. This was both about sharing our ideas with you and also connecting you with other leaders’ ideas, knowing we’re all in this together. Our intent over the coming newsletters is to continue the conversation with an in-depth exploration of some of these topics for you.

The other important part of Mental Health Awareness Week for me was focusing on my team at Umbrella. This week is always one of the busiest of our calendar year and with the team supporting hundreds of other people, it was equally important for me to role-model how to integrate self-care into our lives, even when our diaries are full.  

Each day, I shared a photo and personal anecdote of the small moments where I’d included one of the five Mental Health Awareness Week’s themes of Wairua, Whānau, Whenua, Tinana and Hinengaro into my day.  For those who have worked with me before, they will know my default setting is to be more of a push-through kind of leader, who keeps my work and personal life separated; however, stepping into this Acting CEO role during a time of change, COVID-19 and alongside my own busy family, it simply has not been possible. 2020 is teaching me to move into more sustainable habits for my own wellbeing, my family’s wellbeing and Umbrella’s wellbeing to be the leader I’d like to be across all three of these areas.  

Leaders often ask me, “What else can I do to support my team?” The positive impact for my team of this small act of sharing has reminded me that the little daily moments are important. They watch me try, succeed, fall over, and try again in my own wellbeing focus. It’s not about getting it perfect every time, it’s about sharing the intent and giving it a go together.

Mental Health Awareness Week has ended for now but let’s not leave the conversation there – let’s continue the great conversations it’s sparked between us.

Ngā mihi