5 takeaways from our #RebrandMentalHealth event
April 26, 2023
On Wednesday 19th April, we gathered with friends and allies at the Science Gallery London to talk all about rebranding mental health.
It was a night of fun and networking, but also full of fascinating insights into the future of workplace wellbeing.
Missed it? No worries – here’s the five key things we learned.
We need to change the image of mental health
Unmind’s CEO Dr Nick Taylor opened the night with some personal reflections on the importance of mental health branding.
Throughout his career in the mental health space, Nick has found himself frustrated at the portrayal of mental health in our culture. Whether it’s in newspapers, in adverts or on TV, mental health is too often shown in the same old way: a person with their head in their hands, a bottle of medication.
A toothpaste advert would never show you someone’s rotting teeth. So why does marketing for mental health solutions show you people in distress?
“If we can make teeth sexier than the human brain we’ve got something very, very wrong.” - Dr Nick Taylor, CEO, Unmind
On the flip side, wellbeing imagery often takes things in the opposite direction. Think smiling faces, people walking through fields or posing in a downward dog.
While it’s good to see some happier images, they don’t reflect reality either. Together these portrayals make mental health and wellbeing a black-and-white binary. Most of us won’t feel represented by either side.
To change the way mental health is seen in workplaces, and in wider culture, we need to change its image. That’s why the new Unmind brand shows the full spectrum of human experience. Strength, sadness, laughter. Mental health in a kaleidoscope of colours.
“I’ve never met anyone who exists in black and white.” – Dr Nick Taylor, CEO, Unmind
We can learn a lot from cigarette ads
Bear with us…
It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the day, cigarette ads presented smoking as the solution to all kinds of problems. Smoking could soothe your throat, or help people with speech impediments – even doctors said so.
As the world started to realise that smoking wasn’t the health cure it was cracked up to be, advertising companies slowly and begrudgingly changed tack. Smoking became cool rather than healthy. Now, they have to show you the realities of smoking right there on the pack – blackened lungs or yellow teeth.
“Smoking started as a solution and became a problem. Mental health started as a ‘problem’, our job is to take it on the reverse journey and show people mental health is a solution.” – Ben Shaw, VP Brand & Marketing, Unmind
Governments may play a role in the future of mental health at work
Josh Krichefski, Group M CEO and President of the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), shared how he has been working to get workplace mental health on the political agenda.
Since 2020, his team has been lobbying the UK Government to make mental health reporting mandatory for all businesses with over 250 employees. Although it’s not on any party’s manifesto just yet, this is a trend we can see emerging at home and abroad.
The Australian Government has brought in legislation around psychosocial hazards in the workplace. A Mental Health First Aid law was proposed in the UK (our thoughts on that here). And for the first time in history, the World Health Organisation is recommending employee training as a way of protecting mental health at work.
If (or when) the time comes for workplace wellbeing laws in the UK, companies who have been putting wellbeing on the back-burner will have a steep hill to climb.
“It’s two sides of the same coin. Look after your people’s health and they’ll look after your business health.” – Josh Krichefski, CEO EMEA and UK, GroupM
Leaders set the tone for company culture…
Josh and Dr Nick discussed the importance of employees bringing their whole selves to work. But it’s easier said than done.
Company culture is something that’s built gradually over time – people won’t change the way they’ve always behaved just because you ask them to. When it comes to changing workplace behaviours, leaders need to show, not tell.
When leaders talk about how they’re feeling, or their family, or whatever's happening in their lives outside work, it gives permission for others to follow in their footsteps.
“I often tell people when I’m feeling a bit insecure. Especially if I walk into a room and I’m the most senior person in there, I love to tell people that I’m nervous and watch how they react.” - Josh Krichefski, CEO EMEA and UK, GroupM
… But we all have a role to play in the movement for change
Rebranding mental health is everyone’s business.
Although leaders play a crucial role in creating mentally healthy cultures, we can all make a difference to our workplace culture, whatever our job title.
Did you know that only 15% of people believe company messaging, but 85% trust information from someone they know?
Done right, peer-to-peer programmes have just as much power as top-down influence.
That’s why Amber Coster, Unmind’s Chief of Staff, rounded off the night with a BIG announcement.
She revealed that we’re giving away our wellbeing champions training completely free for 2023!
A wellbeing champion is someone who is passionate about mental health. The kind of colleague people turn to when they need to talk. Someone who wants to change their workplace for the better.
And yet too many businesses aren't harnessing them. Too many champions aren't getting the empowerment they need.
“The wellbeing champions course has been created with the powerful partnership of our content and science teams, making sure that we’re using the most recent research to drive wellbeing that works.” – Amber Coster, Chief of Staff, Unmind
Pre-register here to get first access to our wellbeing champions training when it launches on Tuesday 2nd May.