Feature articles about Oxford University Press around the world

Supporting mental health awareness at OUP

Supporting mental health awareness at OUP

10 October 2019

OUP colleagues around the world have been carrying out activities to support wellbeing and mental health throughout September and October. 

In Oxford, our employee-led Befriender Network ran a week of sessions to support World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September). Talks included Oxford Samaritans speaking about people experiencing suicidal thoughts and those supporting them, Oxfordshire Mind suicide myth-busting and exploring how to support someone in a crisis, as well as Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust discussing factors impacting mental health in specific communities and groups and how these can be managed.

For Baby Loss Awareness Week (9 - 15 October), our Befriender Network is also holding an open session where befrienders were on hand to have private conversations with anyone affected who wants to drop in and talk. The Befriender Network launched in 2018, and offers informal support and friendship to anyone living with or returning to work following events such as a bereavement, mental health challenge, or physical illness, or anyone caring for someone affected by any of these.

Our Australia office is supporting World Mental Health Day by running daily 15-minute mindfulness sessions for the week, holding a ‘Stress Down Day’ where employees come to work in slippers or comfy clothing, and holding a raffle to raise funds for mental health charity Reach Out Australia with first prize being a full mental health day off work.

Colleagues from our Cary branch in the US participated in the Out of Darkness Walks in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), raising $465 in funds. The initiative encourages people to think about, talk about, and share the importance of mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Our OUP Brazil Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been running a mental health awareness campaign and sharing information on dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety, with employees showing their support by wearing yellow clothing and a yellow ribbon to match the campaign colours. Elsewhere, employees at our Turkey branch will be seen by the company doctor who will also give a talk on mental health, and our Kenya office are working to raise mental health awareness by sharing literature with suggestions for practical steps to support your own mental wellbeing.

As part of our wider journey to support the wellbeing and mental health of our people, we are undertaking a number of steps including launching new mental health awareness training for our people managers, and piloting a mental health first aid network at our Oxford headquarters. These initiatives will complement existing provisions at some of our branches, such as mindfulness sessions; a selection of online tools and social groups dedicated to wellbeing; and an Employee Assistance Programme which provides free counselling information, signposting, and support for a wide range of life events or circumstances.

Speaking of the activities, OUP Brazil D&I Committee member Thays Melo said, ‘On the subject of Mental Health, the topic has piqued my interest in a personal way as someone dealing with daily anxiety, as well as the real need to talk given the growing number of people suffering from mental illnesses. Moreover, it needs understanding, clarification, and empathy to identify who can help us, including our own family, friends, and co-workers.’

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Read more from our employees:

Amanda’s story
Amanda founded our Befriender Network in the UK following a personal loss.

Stacey’s story
Stacey shares her inspirational account of battling anorexia.