Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace
We’re trying to create safe work environments for our startups and also teach them how to establish sustainable cultures in their growing companies. The topic of mental health has (eventually) become prevalent in global discussions, and we, at APX, asked ourselves what can we do to help our community.
Why do we care?
Everyone struggles sometimes, no matter if it’s you, your colleague or the co-founder of your company. But struggling and having bad days still seem not be accepted by society and the workplace culture. I have my own personal story with a mix of mental health issues, which I’m always open to speaking about if someone’s interested in it. One day I spoke to our team lead Katy about such an issue and was surprised that she had responded in such a positive and open-minded way. Ever since then I knew I could talk about anything with her and she would always listen to it.
Some weeks passed and one day I went out for having lunch with some founders and a colleague and we suddenly stumbled upon the mental health topic again. It turned out that everyone had their own personal story to it, whether it was anxiety, burnout, stress, bipolar or depression. To be honest it shocked me that I went out to have lunch and just enjoy my break with people I like, and came back realising that everyone has their own struggles and that it wasn’t just me. I also wondered why it shocked me and to be honest it was because no one is openly speaking about it and I don’t understand why maybe it’s fear of losing respect, credibility or a culture topic — I don’t actually know, but I would to love to see this change.
Then one-day Katy and I had a meeting and she brought up a topic, which she thought, was interesting for me to develop a concept around and she called it “Mental Mining”. We started to have more specific meetings about it and we became so inspired that we ended up developing a concept — for founders (who are operating under a lot of pressure) and for our own team (who are our family).
Everyone has a million thoughts simultaneously running through their heads. Not only positive things like when and where to get the next Club-Mate, but also serious problems such as anxiety, the fear of their startup idea failing, depression, the fear of becoming bankrupt, burnout and the problem overworking, sleep deprivation, staying motivated and so many more.
So Katy and I created the challenge to be the first European startup accelerator that tackles all those issues and creates a safe workplace for both — the startups and our own team.
#APXMentalMining will tackle different topics that founders are interested in the most. They submitted those topics anonymously. Because there were so many submissions and topics it made us realise even more how important the whole topic around mental health and wellbeing really is.
The topics that will be tackled are:
- Work-life balance
- Stress management
- Emotional intelligence rather than illnesses
- Emotional distress
- Handling the ups and downs of startup life
- Stress reduction/stress management
- Happiness in general
- Improving performance
How are we doing this and why are we taking you on our journey?
We want to create a more positive work atmosphere within the APX office and started off with the poster campaign. There was so much positive feedback around posts being hung around the office we thought of having little messages in form of postcards. The postcards are all different some are for productivity, others are just cheering you up and others are just small reminder to be a little happier.
#APXMentalMining x Flowletics
One of our portfolio companies Flowletics will give a monthly session on flow and meditation to the portfolio companies and help them to be more focused and mindful whilst working. Flowletics also has tackled related topics such as procrastination and being distracted by too many different things in everyday life. If you want to read more about it: http://flowletics.com/magazin/
#APXMentalMining Podcast Group
We also didn’t want to leave out the main way of how I got myself more into the topic of mental health — podcasts. So we said, as always, sharing is caring and created a podcast group internally (which we can share with you if you want!) where everyone can add their favourite wellbeing and mental health podcasts and all founders have access to.
But not everyone is consuming or enjoying podcasts. Some like reading articles on Linkedin or Medium and some prefer books, so we’re also creating a physical library where everyone can find interesting books and hopefully gets inspired by them to change themselves for the better.
#APXMentalMining Coaching Sessions
We also want to offer frequent interaction/exchange between startups and experts in their respective fields. We will hold a monthly lunch with experts and founders on the key mental health topics. This is something where we bring in strong external voices to explain key topics to our founders.
#APXMentalMining Wellbeing Officers
We also try to offer different facets, not only podcasts, books or workshops. As simple as it sounds, an open ear for problems and issues is sometimes all people need. Katy and I are going to go through training in become Wellbeing Officers so we will have an open ear whenever there is a problem that someone needs to talk about..
Another pillar of a clear mind is physical exercise. We offer weekly yoga sessions and for late spring early summer it is planned to offer more physical activities like bodyweight sessions for instance, as we all know that physical activities do boost people’s mental wellbeing
#APXMentalMining x Podcasters
We want to share this strategy externally for you to adapt in your companies, this shouldn’t be just for our portfolio companies. We reached out to different podcasters, who are expertise in the field of mental health if they can support us by following the startups’ and our journey with #APXMentalMining.
As I said above, it’s super important to raise awareness, share stories and make it a comfortable topic to talk about.
It is okay to not be okay.
We’d love to hear from you about what you are doing in your workplace around this topic so feel free to connect with Katy and me on Twitter.