Every year for Mental Health Awareness Week we encourage employees to wear a green ribbon to show their support for ending the stigma around mental health in the workplace. This year, the landscape looked different so we brought the campaign online.
The Green Ribbons create a visible movement of support for ending the stigma; show those struggling that there is support and that they are not alone; demonstrate the level of support for wellbeing within the workplace and encourage people to share their story to create inclusive workplace cultures.
In 2019 we sold over 170,000 Green Ribbons and Green Ribbon pin badges to companies based from Aberdeen to Cornwall. We saw high profile buildings from the Houses of Parliament to Mansion House, Guildhall to Emirates Stadium, lit up green to show solidarity.
The impact of COVID-19 means that the mental health of employees is more important than ever. Through This is Me and the Green Ribbon campaign, we want to enable organisations to support their people with their wellbeing. The physical community that the Green Ribbon campaign usually builds was not possible this year due to social distancing, but we think it is important that mental health is still visible, so wanted to create a virtual movement of support.
We created digital assets to help individuals and organisations spread the Green Ribbon message online. Our goal was to turn LinkedIn, as the main business social network, green.
We asked everyone to wear a green ribbon on their profile picture, and consider giving one, digitally, to a colleague or employee to share kindness and connect at during these strange times. By sharing a green ribbon, people could show support and solidarity for positive wellbeing. It was an opportunity to come together, even at a time when we people are working apart. We created a video with senior leaders including Sadiq Kahn, Mayor of London, demonstrating a universal commitment.
The theme for 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week was ‘kindness’. We believe that showing support for a colleague is a kind act that anyone can do, and spending time engaging in an activity shows kindness to yourself. The activities we offered included origami ribbons and mindful colouring sheets.
Like many charities and third sector organisations, this was the first time we had to take an initiative online. We had to work hard, and quickly, turning around a new campaign plan in a couple of weeks. We prepared assets and communications to help engage both individuals and businesses to take part – and were delighted with the response.
There were 2409 downloads of resources, in over 800 orders, from 706 individuals. Of these participants, many attested to having taken part in the Green Ribbon campaign in previous years, with 29 businesses claiming to have run the Green Ribbon campaign in all 4 years. But it was also an opportunity to engage new organisations, and 252 businesses downloaded resources as part of the virtual Green Ribbon campaign, having not previously registered for This is Me.
One of the benefits of going digital was that it enabled people to come together as a community, despite being in different locations. We also saw a number of individuals outside of organisations taking part, which is a great step forward. Chainvine said “I think it worked well; the interactions broke down borders – especially by sharing resources around the globe on LinkedIn.”
The campaign had a ripple effect, with businesses choosing to undertake other activities around the theme. InfinityWorks said “We had a great week, we launched our Mental Health champions, started a mental health and wellbeing community, and ran out of work virtual activities. We dressed up in green to spread awareness on Friday and posted on social media. We had such a great week and we are all feeling the love and openness already.”
When asked ‘do you plan to run a virtual Green Ribbon campaign again?’, almost 96% of respondents agreed that they will re-adopt the campaign in the future. With a longer time to prepare, we will be able to provide even more support and resources for individuals and organisations to get involved.
Whatever the future looks like in businesses in a post COVID-19 world, we hope to make future Green Ribbon campaigns as inclusive as possible, to encourage more people to join the movement to #endthestigma.