Partner Ben Goode discusses LSI’s focus on raising the profile of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and the Practice’s work to become a more open and supportive organisation.
Over the years mental health has been treated as the poor relation of physical health in terms of perception and funding. Throughout history, those with mental health issues have been treated with derision, evident through many of the terms that have traditionally been used to refer to mental health institutes and people with mental health problems or disabilities. It is little wonder, then, as a society we still have an enormous amount to do to break down the stigma surrounding these issues.
1 in 4 people now suffer some form of mental illness each year. It is no longer something that can be brushed under the carpet. Every employer depends on having healthy and productive employees – valued and supported staff are far more likely to perform better and achieve peak performance.
The Architects Journal’s recent ‘Life in Practice’ survey painted a worrying picture of the state of the architecture profession. The report revealed that architects regularly struggle with heavy workloads, long hours and maintaining their own mental health.
At LSI Architects, we have chosen to prioritise mental health, and are placing great emphasis on the concept of wellbeing over the months ahead.
At the end of 2016, LSI took part in the inaugural Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index. We have been benchmarked as “Bronze – Achieving Change” which means we have started to do some work in this area but there is a great deal more that can do and that we intend to do.
Our HR policies and procedures are being completely redrafted in order to incorporate best practice and feedback we have received from Mind to ensure that we are supporting our team in the best way possible.
We have introduced numerous initiatives to better support our team, including weekly yoga sessions and confidential counselling sessions with an external specialist. Our HR team is also trained in mental health first aid.
Everyone at LSI now has the opportunity to attend a series of sessions run by Mind. These sessions are designed to provide strategies and mechanisms to keep us well and resilient. Likewise, every employee has the opportunity to attend sessions with CAKE Personal Development which focus on coaching, mentoring and giving and receiving feedback.
We are also in the process of increasing the number of breakout spaces in our office environment to encourage people to step away from their desks.
It had always been the intention of my colleagues and myself to put in place a structure that supported the mental health of our employees. We are determined to highlight the importance of good mental health. Providing a safe, open and honest environment for employees is incredibly important to us if we are to successfully foster a culture of creativity, resourcefulness and resilience.
We don’t pretend to know all the answers but hope that by working together and all learning more about mental health and wellbeing, we can support each other and our wider family and friends when needed.