Time to Take Care

May 12, 2021

Freybe Values Mental Health – by Carly Peters for Western Grocer Magazine 

Mental health is good for business. According to Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) when effectively prioritizing and addressing mental health in the workplace the potential bottom-line impacts include higher performance, lower absenteeism, and reduced disability costs. But really, it also just makes people feel good.

After attending a workplace wellness conference in 2018, Karen Hunt, director of people, culture and office services at Freybe, knew she wanted to do just that. As the company culture was evolving, mental health was a perfect fit under their value of caring. Along with doing their own research and resource sourcing, the company decided to choose a comprehensive program offered by the Canadian Mental Health Association, called Not Myself Today (NMT). This workplace mental health initiative helps companies build greater awareness, reduce stigma, and foster safe and supportive cultures through attention-getting material (“Their mood buttons are still a hit three years later,” laughs Hunt), turnkey activities, tools, and 24/7 accessible resources.

Since the launch of NMT in 2019, Freybe has been able to find other CMHA information and initiatives, as well as doing additional reading and sharing of information sourced through a variety of other outlets.

“We have moved from ‘here is the program you can access to support your mental health,’ to understanding that mental and physical health are interconnected and keeping both supported is essential,” she says. “Ultimately, our goal is to not have a one size fits all program, but rather to provide as many options as possible for them to access.”

This education and understanding around mental health has ultimately led to a reduction in the stigma around mental illness and asking for help. This has been more important than ever over the past year, says Hunt.

“When the pandemic hit, we had a team who could discuss the value of mental health and know they needed to be proactive in protecting it and know they were encouraged to reach out if they needed support,” she says, adding Freybe is continuing to expand pandemic-related mental health initiatives to include a buddy program to help with isolation and loneliness, as well as keeping the team connected in their community by giving back through volunteering.

“If you talk to anyone on our team regardless of role in our organization, they would all tell you the value of having conversations around mental health. We talk about it every day and they all feel empowered to look after each other and make decisions that improve the quality of life at our organization,” says Hunt. “Your mental health can’t be turned on and off and our employees all feel like Freybe can be a place where these conversations can be had without judgement. Freybe’s commitment to the mental health of our employees is so much more than meeting the demands of running a business. Our business wouldn’t be what it is without our team, that’s why having these open conversations is important. These things affect us all.”