Equality, Diversity, and Mental Health

Equality, diversity and inclusion: three practices which should be baked into the core or every organisation. But sometimes it pays to step up and do more than the usual day to day in order to celebrate these traits. To take the time to highlight ongoing efforts to promote the fair and equal treatment of all, as well as to share best practices.

Recognising this, the NHS Employers’ Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Week looks to encourage and support health and social organisations to join in a national conversation about the promotion of equality and diversity. The week, which runs from 10th to 14th May, takes as its theme the NHS Peoples Promise. This has been broken down on successive days to cover:

  • Being a team
  • Being recognised and rewarded
  • A voice that counts
  • Safety and health
  • Compassion and inclusivity

Events across the week include twitter chats, virtual round tables, and webinars; with individual organisations also being encouraged to undertake their own programme of events, even if those simply take the form of a chat over coffee.

Interestingly, the week coincides with another important event; Mental Health Awareness week. This runs from 10th to 16th May and takes as its theme the positive impact which nature and green spaces can have on people’s mental well being.  Research from the Mental Health Foundation revealed that over the past year, going for walks outside was the top coping strategy. Moreover, 45% of individuals surveyed reported that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.

Recognising that around 13% of households don’t have access to a garden, the team behind Mental Health Awareness week hope to use the event to promote the importance of access to green spaces; aiming to convince “decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.” Their second aim is to inspire people to connect with nature in new ways for the benefit of their mental health.

As Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Mark Rowland said: “Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads.”

This is a conversation which could also be had as part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion week. Are there steps which could be taken to improve the natural surroundings at your organisation or to help those who may not have a garden to better access green spaces? Would there be a benefit in encouraging individuals who feel stressed or overwhelmed to step outside and take a quick walk in a nearby park or public green area? And how could work schedules be reorganised so that people have the time to step outside when needed?

It’s easy to say that working hours should be filled with working activities. But when we become stressed the quality of our work and our decision making can suffer. Being able to take even ten minutes outside in a green space could just help to break the stress cycle, thereby leading to a more productive and safe working pattern.