Managing Mental Health at a Start-Up
Mental health is health, and we take it seriously at Aphex. We want to support the people who work here at AphexHQ and make talking about mental health a part of everyday life.
We’re working to create a safe and supportive environment for everyone. We still have work to do, but this is the progress we’ve made so far.
We all struggle with mental health sometimes
We’re all affected by mental health. Our mental health influences all of us, every day. At work, at home, even when we’re asleep. And that’s all totally normal.
We are hyper-aware that there is a flip side to the dynamic, exciting, fast-paced nature of work that comes with being a fast-growing start-up with a global team.
One of these is that we embrace flexible working at Aphex. Whilst the pandemic has accelerated this trend everywhere, this was something that was part of our DNA already with team members in three timezones from very early in our journey. Risks of longer hours and reduced human interaction are specific concerns.
We are also hyper-aware that we operate in the construction industry. For those of you that don’t know, mental health stigma and issues are astronomical in this sector, with two construction workers taking their own life every single day.
What a cross-section to build a business in! So, it’s important that Aphex is a place where people feel they can talk about mental health freely and without being judged.
We started by making space for people to talk
In 2021 we kicked off our mental health efforts. We started small, creating a Slack channel exclusively for the topic of mental health. (Slack is an instant messaging platform we use to communicate internally). To begin with, people mainly used it for sharing mental health studies and support sources, as well as reminding each other that whatever they may be feeling, it’s normal and they’re not alone.
Over time we hope it will evolve into a safe and supportive forum, where people can share their daily thoughts and things they were struggling with — if they choose to.
Oh, and there are some top-notch podcasts that get shared on there too.
We then spoke to specialists
A large part of the Aphex team come from engineering, construction, or mathematical professions and so love a good, robust data set before committing to a new idea. It might be “significant” but are we talking to 0.02 or what?
Our next step then, was to see how it’s done by talking to a pro! Luckily, we stumbled across the incredible free sessions and resources that Spill provide, a company who provides mental health support for employees through a Slack or MS Teams integration.
We invited everyone at Aphex HQ to attend a tailored session where we ran through mood, stress, burnout and much more. It included theory, data and tangible resources for people to use as they saw fit. Arming the team with data and actionable resources ensured that we were including lots of different people’s approaches, and addressing a variety of concerns in an inclusive way. Which we think is definitely significant…
We’re making mental health part of our policy
We want to establish an enduring positive mental health environment. If we do this well, there’s a real chance that everyone here at Aphex HQ feels a bit more seen, a bit more heard and a bit more comfortable.
We started by thinking about our policies. We’re pretty flexible with working hours, home:office splits & encouraging things like walking meetings to make sure people get to see some trees!
We decided to give everyone at Aphex certainty over how seriously we’re taking mental health, by creating our very own ‘Right to Disconnect’ company policy. Inspired by Spill, we have some obligations to make sure everyone is in control of when and how they switch off from work.
To put it simply, we believe that if you’re thinking about work, you’re working. If you’re messaging about work, you’re working. If at any moment you feel like you could be pulled into work, you’re working.
Working late in the evening because you want to is very different from working because you feel like you have to.
Download the slide with the links or check them out yourself:
- Covid = Increased Hours
- Needing to be ‘always connected’ to work
- EU Working Time Directive
- Deep Work
- Whatsapp Stress
- The Inspiration
We committed ourselves to raising awareness
There has been some fantastic work over the past few years in construction around raising awareness and offering support to people in the profession, and their families. But there’s still such a long way to go. It didn’t rest easy with us putting mental health so high up our internal priorities, but not aiding efforts to change the damaging stigma and lack of conversation in the industry we work in. Not only did this feel at odds with how closely we work with our users in the Aphex community, but also wouldn’t support our claim to take mental health seriously.
In 2021 we kicked off our charitable endeavours, raising money for CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably). With a phenomenal amount of support and a willing group, we raised over £7,800 by cycling from London to Brighton.
In 2022, we’ve ramped it up a gear, and have chosen the Lighthouse Charity as our official charity for the year. Five brave members of the Aphex team are tackling the four peaks challenge to raise money for this construction-specific mental health charity, along with future fundraising later in the year too.
We’re also dedicating time and resources to promote key individuals, companies and efforts on mental health from our incredible users, and the industry as a whole.
We’ve still got a way to go
We’ve come a long way in just under a year, but are well aware we’ve still got work to do! We want to do everything we can to make coping with mental health part of the day-to-day at Aphex. Maybe it’s an episode of depression, a situation at home, a break-up. Whatever is impacting our team, we want them to feel like they have the support, tools and forum they want & need.
Aphex HQ is lucky to be made up of a group of incredibly devoted, hard workers. But being a fantastic, high functioning, person is not at odds with having a mental health diagnosis. We are a team, and when we stumble, we help each other back up so we can continue to achieve goals together.
Author: Chloe Haynes, Marketing Lead at Aphex
Originally published at https://www.aphex.co.