Before we get to the point when we can just talk about health as an encapsulation of both our physical and mental wellbeing, we need society to change. And although change is necessary for progress in all aspects of life, without structure and support, it can be challenging to navigate.
At Taxi Studio, we know that recognising the importance of our mental health as well as our physical health is never going to be solved by a one size fits all approach. So we've put in place various ways of putting mental wellbeing at the heart of both conversations and operations: the talk and the walk.
- We started by defining what we meant as a company by ‘mental health’ and wellbeing by updating our Employee Handbook to clarify our policy. Top-to-toe support from top-to-toe of the agency. ‘We will treat your mental health and wellbeing the same as your physical health, both of which are equally important’
- Should we need to, we can take a ‘mental health day’, in the same way as a normal sick day. Taking a ‘mental health day’ might sound a bit clunky. But it is just one of those step changes towards automatically including physical and mental wellbeing when we talk about our health – proactively breaking down the taboo. Without a positive call-out, do we all believe it’s a reality? Can I really take a ‘mental health day’? Do they mean what they say? Some people may have no problem with it; they’ve grown-up understanding mental health and wellbeing. Others might feel uncomfortable and awkward. If I take a ‘mental health day’ will my colleagues know?
- At Taxi, it’s an individual choice that will be respected. Broadcast or don’t broadcast – just never feel outcast.
- For several years now, we've had a succesful flexible working policy that accommodates an individual's needs around their personal lives. Flexible working allows for people to either change their hours permanently or on a more ad-hoc basis – ensuring a better balance for all, regardless of the reason.
- Our Healthcare Plan is there for all our employees and offers financial reimbursement for everyday healthcare – covering both mental and physical needs.
- And on a more day-to-day operational basis, we have an organised network of Team Leaders, Mentors and our in-house Coach on-hand to support on work-related, personal-related and career-related challenges.
- We’ve had a long-term relationship with NABS – an organisation whose sole purpose is to improve the wellbeing of everyone in the advertising and media industry. They have an advice line that’s available to our whole team that covers everything from anxiety and stress through to financial advice. We understand that not everyone is comfortable talking to their colleagues about certain subjects and can benefit from impartial advice from an organisation that understands our industry.
- Last year we brought in local mental health champion Ben Akers to show his film about men’s mental health ‘Steve the Documentary’ and host a Q&A afterwards. We had frank and vital conversations, and the legacy of that film is still with us, as is the knowledge of the support networks that Ben has built because of this film.
- This year the team voted for Bristol Mind as our annual charity. Founded in 1965, Bristol Mind is a mental health resource for people in Bristol and surrounding areas to contribute to mental wellbeing, reduce stigma and discrimination. Through our fundraising programme, we will contribute to the much-needed funds for this charity but also in supporting a charity that promotes mental wellbeing, it allows us to have everyday conversations that include the subject of mental health – once again bringing the topic out into the open.
Investing in our team’s mental health needs is an ongoing project and we’re always learning as we go. But in an industry fraught with pressure (and particuarly without the camaraderie of working together in one location at the moment), one we take very seriously. So, although it is important to recognise World Mental Health Day, we treat this in the same way as the other 364 days of each year, with dedicated support across the whole team, looking after hearts (and minds).