“A focus on mental health needs to be interwoven throughout the whole company.” – Lara Herpers (Director of People & Culture @ Team5pm)

31 Aug ‘22
5 min
Daily practice is the key to long-lasting change. This is true whether you’re learning something new, trying to improve your fitness, or aiming to be more mentally resilient. Just as you’d throw on your running shoes once a week to get better at jogging, you should also regularly take care of your mind so that you can be more flexible when tackling challenging situations, become stronger, and recover more quickly in the face of setbacks.

 

We’re not the only ones working based on this philosophy. Other companies are handling this topic in their own way. We spoke to Lara Herpers, Director of People & Culture at Team5pm, about her view on mental health at and outside of work.

 

Hi Lara, how does Team5pm work towards ensuring the wellbeing and long-term viability of its employees?

 

“Mental health and engagement at work are top priorities for us in the People & Culture team. Our collaboration with OpenUp helps us to focus on this throughout the year,” explains Lara.

 

“Just the act of offering this service is in itself an important signal. We’re showing that we think it’s normal to talk about psychology and to take an interest in your mental health,” Lara explains convincingly.

 

“What’s more, OpenUp makes talking about your mental health approachable. As well as consultations, you can also practice mindfulness or take a master class. I think that this accessibility is important.”

 

“Just the fact that you have the option of speaking to somebody is a great feeling. And then, if you need it, you know where to go.”

 

“But OpenUp also helps educate you about the topic. Every month, we send out informative content about things that matter and that people really struggle with. The more often you do that, the lower the barrier becomes for people to talk about these things,” Lara believes.

 

And it doesn’t stop there. Even outside the collaboration, the organization tries to contribute to this topic. “Every quarter, we give an internal training session, like ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ or ‘The Fundamentals of Wellbeing’, Lara continues.

 

“At the end of the day, wellbeing is quite a catch-all term. In sessions like these, I think it’s important to make sure colleagues are well-informed without imposing anything on them. Afterwards, they can then decide for themselves what they want to take away from the session and what they don’t.”

 

“Mental health shouldn’t just be part of the People & Culture department, it needs to be interwoven throughout the entire company.”

 

Is mental health discussed openly at Team5pm?

 

Being able to discuss mental health openly helps create a safe and open culture in the workplace, Lara explains.

 

“It’s important to be able to talk about mental health openly with you peers and colleagues. Wellbeing isn’t just a part of your job, it’s a part of your whole life and existence. Talking about it should be as normal as talking about your physical health and your weekly trips to the gym.”

 

“As employers, we want to show that we’re actively engaged in both physical and mental health. We’re here to set an example and we want that to shine through.”

 

Management also plays a role here. Setting a good example means practicing what you preach. How do you do this?

 

Lara: “We’re trying to focus more on that. That’s why one of our founders recently gave an interview about how he looks after his mental health. But, for example, we also have a team guide which contains all our guidelines for a healthy work environment and ways of working together.”

 

Because having good relationships with your colleagues is sometimes about the small things, Lara explains: “So, we encourage employees to schedule messages in Slack and Gmail. If you want to work evenings, that’s fine. But we’d then advise you to schedule your messages for the following morning so that you aren’t disturbing anybody having a relaxing evening.”

 

“I think it’s important to communicate regularly on this topic because I want people to feel that it really helps to be actively engaged in your mental health.”

 

What do you do yourself to tackle mental health challenges, such as stress and insecurity?

 

“I myself also speak to a psychologist. It helps me to check in on my feelings and to reflect on things,” explains Lara. “I also really like to exercise. It gets me out of my head and brings me back to my body.”

 

And how do you create a good balance in your life?

 

“I think that balance isn’t about creating a strict division between work and your private life, but about checking in with yourself and what you need at any given moment. Sometimes that’s an evening alone on the couch or going out with a friend. Other times it’s an evening of putting in some extra work because you want to get things done.

 

So, you don’t have any strict rules per se, but you go with your gut and see want you need in the moment. But balance isn’t just about working or not working, Lara thinks. “Balance is also about being able to let go of your work. Do you find it difficult to not think about work when you’re at home in the evening? Are you really in the moment or do your thoughts keep creeping back to that project you’re working on?”

 

You had no qualms about joining forces with OpenUp. Why not?

 

“If you’re offering something as an employer and you’re sending your colleagues there, you want to be sure that your people are getting the right support and guidance. I have that confidence in OpenUp,” explains Lara.

 

The mix of certified psychologists, informative content, and an approachable outlook is what makes the platform so strong. “You don’t need to have a big problem to start a conversation,” continues Lara. “And it’s also good that there’s a place outside work where you can anonymously talk about your thoughts and feelings. You employer never has to know.”

 

“As an employer, you can keep saying you that think wellbeing is important, but when you’re not doing anything about it, those are just empty words. OpenUp helps us to actively engage in mental health and to provide support and knowledge where necessary.”