“Mental Health Mates Walks” at Hachette UK
Facilitating lunchtime walks for staff helps to support mental, social and physical wellbeing at Hachette
Hachette UK launched its very own version of Bryony Gordon’s hugely successful Mental Health Mates walks in summer 2018 via its Wellbeing Network – a group set up to help improve the health and wellbeing of all staff at Hachette UK.
Started by Bryony Gordon in 2016 as an opportunity for people to get together to walk and talk about their mental health and find their ‘We’, Mental Health Mates walks make sure that everyone has a chance to be part of something, while giving people a chance to talk about their mental health without fear of judgement – a message that has been passed on through the Hachette Mental Health Mates walks.
Hachette’s Mental Health Mates walks take place twice a week during lunchtime, to enable employees to join in and take some time for themselves at a time of day when it’s most convenient. The walks are open to everyone and people are welcome to use them in any way that they want. Some people come along to get time and space outside; some come along to connect with friends or like-minded peers; others come because they need to talk to someone confidentially, in a safe space.
The walks are attended by people from all over the company, from every division and department, giving those who wouldn’t normally cross paths the chance to talk and make new friends, while bringing the company closer. Over the course of the past year, the walks have been there for a group of people who come every time and look forward to the chance to get active and talk, and those who just pop in when they need to. In whatever way people choose to use them, the walks are there as a support network and safety net for those that need them.
As well as walks at Hachette UK’s London office, there are now walks happening in our other offices across the country as well, bringing more people together and helping them to feel part of something, while giving them a safe, supportive space to talk about mental health.
Hachette UK is a passionate about eliminating the stigma around mental health, and the Mental Health Mates walks contribute a huge amount towards achieving that goal.
Testimonials from Hachette UK staff:
“I thought it was a great experience and unlike anything in my normal working day – I would really recommend it to any of you” – David Shelley, CEO
“I’m so grateful for having the Mental Health Mates walk. It’s not much, but it can make a huge difference. When I started at the company, I’d had a rough year and had just moved to London and the walks have given me the chance to meet people who I know will be understanding and supportive if I need them. Plus, it’s always great to have an excuse to get out of the office into the fresh air!” – Kate Delaney, Marketing Executive
“Our Mental Health Mates walks at Hachette UK have provided me with a mindful, calming and safe space to walk, talk and listen . . . helping both my physical and emotional health. I’d strongly recommend them to anyone” – Paul Bulos, Contracts Director and Founder and Co-Chair of the Wellbeing Network
“Human connection cannot be underestimated, and even in an open-plan office, loneliness can be a reality. The Mental Health Mates walks are a wonderful, levelling antidote to being deskbound, and the value of giving Hachette staff the option of supportive conversations or companionable silences is immeasurable” – Joanna Kramer, Group Editorial Manager and Founder and Co-Chair of the Wellbeing Network