What it means to be a CALM company

Jack Reinsfield|20th March 2019

As part of our commitment to our staff’s mental health and wellbeing, Blue Latitude Health recently partnered up with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to become a ‘CALM company’. Here, Jack Reinsfield sits down with CALM’s Director of Corporate Partnerships, Andrew Brown, to talk about what CALM does, how to sustainably safeguard mental health in the workplace and what it means to be a CALM company.

What is CALM's mission?

CALM is an organisation which, at its heart, is dedicated to reducing suicides within the UK. It's a charity, but it's more than that. It's becoming more of a popular movement for positive change. We’ve always been known as an organisation centred around reducing male suicide, however, now we’re losing a little bit of the gender specificity. We are still very focused on the issue of male suicide – the evidence shows men are the most vulnerable in this area with three-quarters of people committing suicides being male, that’s one man every two hours. However, now a huge amount of our supporters are women. Many of the calls to our helpline are from women and we know that the relevance and tone of CALM is not restricted to men.

How do you think attitudes to mental health in the UK have changed in the last 10 years?

My personal view is that if you believe everything you read in the newspaper and you see everything around you, it's easy to think there's no problem anymore because everyone's more open now. Men are more open, they're not restricted by toxic stereotypes and so on and so forth. You see some celebrities being more open in the media these days, you see some sportsmen being more open, you just see more content about this topic. But I think we need to be careful as while there is some movement and there's more interest in this area, with more people feel comfortable talking about their own personal issues, there’s still a long way to go.

Why did CALM reach out to the corporate world?

People spend a huge amount of time in the workplace. It's no secret that the environment created within a workplace can either have a positive or a negative effect on your mental health. We decided to use that environment as another vehicle through which we could ultimately provide support provision to as many people as possible.

The programme that we've developed is gender inclusive. A company can work with us to provide a wellbeing programme for all their staff, men and women. We know the engagement style and tone of voice we use works for both men and women. The support provision is our helpline – it’s solution orientated and we know that works for men.

What sort of things should companies be doing to take care of their staff’s mental health?

You hear about bullying cultures, you hear about cultures of extreme conditions. You hear about companies where workers aren't protected from their peers, let alone their bosses. It's incredibly varied, isn't it?

The key is the pillars we put at the heart of the CALM Companies Programme. First, creating a believable and progressive open culture with regard to mental health and wellbeing. This ensures workers genuinely believe that the company is dedicated to helping to look after this aspect of their lives, rather than just paying lip service or ticking a box. To do this, companies have to establish a culture that engages all staff. Then, they have to cement the second pillar within that culture – providing layers of practical support for those that need it.

When both the pillars are in place, people become much more open, much more emotionally resilient and much more likely to seek support when they need it, whether it's through their colleagues or through practical support.

What does it mean to be a CALM company?

In short, a CALM company is a progressive one with regard to mental health and wellbeing. It's a company that doesn't just talk the talk but it walks the walk as well. Not just in terms of things that look showy, but also in terms of the real nitty-gritty things like ensuring a support system has been set up that allows people to be vulnerable and ask for help.

Once you've taken the first steps towards creating that open culture, along with developing practical support provision and engagement for both men and women, then you can become a CALM company.

Our CALM Company Programme is evolving all the time, and we are looking to develop elements that are free [rather than paid for] in the near future with the aim of making the programme genuinely inclusive to all.

At Blue Latitude Health, not only are we a CALM company who care about our staff’s mental health, but we also have a variety of structures in place to make sure employees feel they are getting the most out of their role and have plenty of support. Do you want to join our growing team? Take a look at our current roles in London and New York.

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