Friday 18 May 2018
Mental health in the newsroom: how Mental Health Champions have changed the conversation at ITN
ITN has been involved in mental health awareness for two years now and in that relatively short period of time we believe we have achieved a great deal. With support from the very top, from our CEO and CFO, we managed to secure a budget to implement a number of initiatives. We wrote our mental health wellbeing strategy and launched it in the Mental Health Awareness Week in 2016 with a number of events. For the third year running we continue to reinvent what we can offer to our staff during that week to raise awareness.
This year we are running four targeted workshops which are quite targeted; they are Stress around financial difficulties, Young people working a busy newsroom environment, Mindfulness, The Menopause and mental health issues, and our now-annual panel event in the evening at central London location. The panel event is targeted at men and why men don’t tend to talk about their emotions and mental health and why suicide is the biggest killer of young men under 45. We are lucky that we have professional presenters who chair our panels. – This year it’s Sian Williams, 5 News presenter. Sian is also a trained psychotherapist and one of our Mental Health Champions.
With support from Mental Health UK partner Rethink Mental Illness, we have trained over 35 Mental Health First Aiders who act as Mental Health Champions with Rethink Mental Illness’ support. Conversations now happen informally across the company if people are having difficulties they do not want to share with a manager or HR. We will continue to train more people in the coming years. In addition we have offered trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder training to our staff, which is obviously very pertinent in our business.
We offer free online mindfulness courses to our staff. We encourage physical wellbeing initiatives to complement this – from cheaper gym membership, a wellbeing room and football tournaments. We became a Mindful Employer and our CEO signed a Time To Change pledge. Copies of this hang in our interview rooms where prospective new employees can see we are committed to supporting good mental health.
Although we have made some good progress, this is a journey where any employer can always do more. With partners such as Rethink Mental Illness I believe our journey can continue to progress and idea and support grow.
Director of Operations, ITN