‘Making mental health a priority at iCrossing’

Listen to what employees need to support their mental health

Sorrel Shalet

Head of People iCrossing UK


As you probably already know, this is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK - organised by the Mental Health Foundation, it is now in its 21st year. The understanding of mental health has come a long way over the last two decades and you would hope that awareness building isn’t as necessary now as it was then. Especially given the emphasis put on this topic during lockdown and the pandemic.  

However, as I was reminded whilst attending my recent mental health first-aider refresher course, unfortunately not everyone is on the same page. As we went around the room discussing how we planned to promote well-being in our respective workplaces, one person shared their recent experience; they were putting up posters in their construction company office, reminding staff about the importance of looking after their mental health, only to be told by one of the company owners, to remove any mental health reference, as there’s no such thing and might give people ideas. I was honestly shocked! I really didn’t think these attitudes still existed.

Well-being at work

I joined iCrossing as head of people in January and one of the things that drew me to the agency was its positive approach to employee well-being and inclusion. Having suffered with anxiety in the past myself, I know the value of a supportive workplace culture. In my first few weeks, it was clear there are lots of great benefits and practices around the organisation that support employee welfare, but not everyone knows how to access them. We really want to ensure that the wider team understands that mental health is as important as physical health and remove any stigma around it. We’re therefore using this week to get everyone’s understanding of the subject up to the same level. 

·       Internal communications and supporting our local community

We’re kicking off with an internal newsletter, sent to all staff, highlighting this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme of loneliness. In this communication we’re encouraging everyone to use their charity days (all employees have five days annually to actively support a charity of their choice) to help tackle isolation. They can do so, for example, by volunteering at charities like Re-engage, which organise tea parties and other activities to bring older people together. By helping others, we can help ourselves through developing new skills, connecting with our local community and feeling good about making a difference.

·       Making sense of mental health with Dr. Barbara Mariposa 

This Thursday we’re running our mental health awareness session, which will be introduced by our CEO, Paul Button, as he is keen to lead from the front in demonstrating the importance of this subject. Dr Barbara Mariposa from Work Well Being will be giving a talk on ‘Making Sense of Mental Health’. This will be followed by a reminder of the benefits we offer to support mental health. Finally, we’ll be launching our new Mental Health First Aiders, who will be on hand to listen and signpost any employee who needs support or would just like a chat.

·       “It’s okay to not be okay”

This phrase is often used when talking about mental health struggles and reducing stigma, but I don’t think it’s right. If you’re not okay, then help and action is needed. However, it's absolutely ‘okay to say you’re not okay’ - and more than okay it’s necessary as the first step to getting help and support.

·       Flexible time for you

Of course, looking after our well-being shouldn’t just happen once a year in May. That’s why it’s important that it's built into our culture. At iCrossing every day between 12.30-2.00pm is blocked out in calendars as ‘meeting-free time’, so we can have a break ringfenced in the day and can take our lunch break. We work flexibly and encourage all employees to include a well-being objective in their performance appraisals. I wonder what the owners of that construction company would think about our approach.  

Make yourself a priority

What matters to me and what matters to iCrossing is making our well-being and mental health a priority for all team members. Long before the pandemic the agency had a well-being agenda, and now that we’re emerging into a new world of more flexible working it’s important that we continue to have an open door, an open mind, and we listen to what our employees need to support their mental health.  

Guest Author

Sorrel Shalet

Head of People iCrossing UK


Sorrel Shalet joined digital agency iCrossing in early 2022. A senior professional with over 15 years of experience working in HR for both advertising and marketing agencies, she brings a wealth of experience to the position of Head of People. Moreover, she has a proven record of accomplishment working in ambitious HR departments for a range successful creative and media advertising organisations including Leo Burnett, Ogilvy, OMD EMEA, TBWA and Rapp. Her core strength is her ability to balance HR skills with her technical expertise, which enables her to develop key solutions for processes and projects within the HR function. Whilst being CIPD qualified, Sorrel is also passionate about people, diversity, inclusion, and employee wellbeing.

Related Tags

Mental Health