Workplace Wellbeing

Champion Spotlight: Newsletters and nattering to normalise mental health, with Yorkshire Building Society

Emma O'Neill

Growth Marketing


Learn how one mental health first aider shifts the story around mental health by sharing personal tales.

Spotlight on: Yorkshire Building Society

Meet Abbie. Abbie’s a Customer Consultant at Yorkshire Building Society – the UK’s 3rd largest building society – and, just before the first national lockdown (you know, several decades ago in March 2020), Abbie became a mental health first aider. 

What’s a mental health first aider? Cracking Q. These in-house heroes champion wellbeing across an organisation, and encourage people to think more proactively about their own mind's – that is, rather than waiting until a problem starts before tackling a mental health challenge.

As part of YBS’s mental health first aider group (which boasts 20+ people), Abbie’s further explored her passion for helping others. The group’s also given her a platform to share her own experiences with mental health – normalising the conversation among her colleagues, and encouraging them to seek help when needed.

“I’ve experienced challenges in the past with my own mental health, and for a long time I’ve felt a sense of deep passion for helping others on their own mental health journey,” Abbie says. “I’ve had friends and loved ones who have struggled with their mental health too, and I think me being able to share my own experiences with depression really helped them to open up and talk with me about their challenges.”

Recognising that real-life experiences helped shift the narrative around mental health, and also got people talking, Abbie decided to put these learnings into practice.

Normalising mental health through stories 

“The more I talked about my own experiences with my mental health challenges, the more I found that friends, colleagues and loved ones would open up about their own stories too,” Abbie says. 

“I started a mental health blog that often features stories from other people – including personal friends – who wanted to spread awareness of certain topics.” 

So far, blogs have covered subjects like men’s health, autism, bipolar disorder and depression, with plenty more personal accounts in the post-based pipeline.

Gentle reminders make a difference 

Alongside the blog, Abbie also creates a monthly newsletter that goes out to various teams within Yorkshire Building Society. Newsletters might focus on a key date in the calendar, or a specific topic, and aims to break down any lingering stigma that surrounds mental health. 

“I think gentle reminders – like newsletters or emails – can go a long way in encouraging people to take a moment to look after themselves,” says Abbie. “I usually highlight how Unmind can help people with the proactive versus reactive approach to mental health.”

Champion insights: what Abbie has learned, in her own words 

Mental health is just as important as physical health 

“You’d tell your manager if you’d broken your leg and were in pain, but not necessarily that you’re struggling with your mental health or having a bad day. It’s important to show that mental health is just as important as physical health.”

Active listening 

“I’m always researching and trying to discover new techniques to learn how I can up-skill my active listening skills. I think active listening is so important when having conversations with people about mental health, especially if they’ve specifically reached out to me for support.”

Like this post? Check out the last instalment – ‘A personal, proactive approach that gets powerful results, with Peabody’ – here.

Want to learn more about how wellbeing champions can help shift the culture in your organisation? Get in touch today.