Mental Health Awareness Week Activities for the Workplace

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is a campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation to help New Zealanders understand more about mental health, and what can improve mental health & boost their wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is taking place from 26 September - 2 October.

Thousands of kiwis are living with a mental illness, and Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect time to bring the topic up in the workplace with some simple activities your team can participate in, and hopefully get a lot out of. Let’s decrease the stigma around mental illness, encourage our employees and colleagues to reach out, support one another, and seek help if and when it’s necessary. Opening the mental health conversation in the workplace will also contribute to building stronger relationships, and increasing empathy between your staff & colleagues. Keep reading for some ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 at work with some meaningful but fun activities!

Create a safe space in your workplace - This isn’t only a good idea for Mental Health Awareness Week, but also a great permanent fixture! Create a room, a space, even just a quiet corner where people can go to relax, collect their thoughts, meditate, & have some breathing room; a calming area to de-stress, regroup & reflect. Think a comfy chair or bean bag, plants, relaxing music, mindfulness books & colouring books. The work environment plays a huge role in mental health, and having a safe & quiet space or ‘escape room’ is a great tool for staff to utilise.

Host a group yoga class - Yoga is the ultimate form of relaxation, and can help with mindfulness, stress relief, and techniques to calm your thoughts. So hire a local yoga instructor for a workplace yoga lesson - It’s fun, relaxing, and a great team-building exercise too!

Make a mental health whiteboard - Each day for the week write on your whiteboard a mental health topic or talking point, motivational quote, or questions & prompts, and encourage your team to contribute by writing their answers and thoughts throughout the day. Some examples are “What are you grateful for today?”, and some exercises to de-stress at work.

Host a team lunch with mental health as the talking point - The topic of mental health is a big one to tackle, but doing so in a relaxed environment while sharing a meal is the perfect way to chat about a heavy topic in a lighter atmosphere. You can learn about your employees and colleagues mental health, start an ongoing discussion and encourage a culture of openness & support.

Hold a wellness gift exchange - It’s like Secret Santa, but with wellness as the theme. Pick a suitable budget & ask each team member to buy (or make) a gift with wellness and self-care in mind (think plants, stress balls, relaxing teas, self-help books etc). Get everyone to wrap their gift, pop it on a table (no tags required), and invite everyone to pick a gift from the pile. There’s just something about gifting that brings people together and lightens the mood, so it’s a great activity for Mental Health Awareness Week!

Host a stress management workshop - Workplace stress is a major contributor to poor mental health, so a stress management workshop is something your staff will really benefit from. Introducing methods to deal with workplace stress is invaluable. Your mental health is absolutely crucial to your wellbeing, and eliminating workplace stressors, or gaining the tools to deal with these stressors and triggers will help immeasurably.

Mental health shouldn’t be a taboo topic anymore, and this includes in the workplace. It’s important to make sure your employees know where & how they can access mental health support, in & out of the workplace, and that as their employer you’re there to support them. Feeling appreciated, safe, connected & supported at work can create a sense of mental well-being, and everyone will benefit from this.