17th April 2018
Every organisation relies on having a healthy and productive workforce, and DCGS is no different. We recognise that to get the best outcomes for our students we need the best staff, and part of this responsibility is looking after the staff we have. In the last eight years MIND have been working with employers to raise the importance of workplace well being and tackling the stigma surrounding mental health. Through this work employers are beginning to recognise the moral and business case for improving workplace wellbeing and this is no different to what we observe with our students. If we don't invest in and support the mental health of our students, they also cannot work at their best and achieve their potential.
DCGS has been working with MIND for the last two years, and this year we are one of only 9 organisations in the country to achieve the Gold Award in the Workplace Wellbeing Index. This award means the school is 'achieving excellence' and has successfully embedded mental health into its policies and practises, demonstrating a long-term, in-depth commitment to staff mental health.
This is something we are very proud of, and something we are trying to replicate in our student support, to end the stigma associated with mental health. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. How we feel can vary from good mental wellbeing to difficult feelings and emotions, to severe mental health. This is normal and we need to recognise it, talk about it and seek appropriate support just as we would when we are looking after our physical health.
Key strengths identified at DCGS are our work at building mental health literacy and putting in place preventative measures and initiatives. The areas for development are the sharing of lived life experiences and considering our job design and recruitment, although our scores in both these areas were above the averages from the 74 organisations who took part in the Workplace Wellbeing Index.
In the last 12 months the school has had a big focus for staff and students on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing: Giving, Connecting, Taking Notice, Keeping Learning and Being Active. We have also marked Time to Talk Day, a day focused on encouraging everyone to talk about mental health, and the school signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge in 2017, putting their commitment in writing which is backed up by an action plan that has been implemented and updated over the last 12 months.
Many staff have been involved, making cakes for our staff tea and coffee events, running staff yoga, staff Wimbledon and staff badminton. There is a staff book club and a number of other social activities, including a new and more inclusive focus on big events like the staff Christmas party. The school has a welfare dog, Ember, who has been a huge success with staff and students alike, and we have 20 members of staff, including governors, who are Wellbeing Champions.
Participating in the Workplace Wellbeing Index has been a hugely beneficial learning process and something the school will continue as part of its long term commitment to its staff and a better way of working. In addition, by supporting the mental health of our staff and being positive role models in this regard, this will allow us to further support the mental health of our students - reducing stigma, improving mental health literacy and giving our students lifelong skills to support their own mental health.