A video project encouraging employees to open up about their mental health challenges was so successful in 2020 that it has been given top priority this year.
Not only did steel manufacturer Molycop list the engagement of their employees and methods to normalise the issue of mental health as a strategic objective, but it also allocated funds to ensure the Everyone Has a Story project got off the ground again in 2021.
In addition, a committee was formed to keep conversations about mental health and wellbeing going throughout the year in a bid to build employees’ resilience.
No one is happier than HR Manager Kayla Parker, who shot the first four videos using her personal camera to pitch the idea to her management team in September last year.
“The mental health and wellbeing of our people is an absolute priority for us, and this video project is a key part of that,” Ms Parker said.
“I did the first video, released it to my management team and said ‘this is what I meant by my pitch’ and it had an impact on everyone who saw it.
“The minute people saw it all come together, any doubts went out the window, and the impact that the project could have on the broader workforce was clear.”
Everyone Has a Story features a number of Molycop employees sharing personal stories of overcoming adversity. Molycop partnered with local video production company Out of the Square Media to produce four videos, with three employee stories in each.
The videos aim to break down barriers and build common ground among employees to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“There are three key elements in each video: what was your situation, how did you get through it and what advice would you give to other people who may be going through something similar,” Ms Parker said.
“It was very emotional but the workers in the video were happy to talk, knowing it might help someone else.
“There was so much meaning to it because the stories all came from people who had been through and overcome adversity.
“Hearing them say ‘you’ve got to talk to someone, you’ve got to open up, this is what helped me’ was really powerful.”
The videos were played on TV screens around the Molycop site during Mental Health Month in October and were also released on electronic platforms.
Molycop is currently in the process of filming employees for this year’s project, for release next month.
“Seeing someone in hi-vis, in manufacturing, who wouldn’t normally talk, having them get emotional and vulnerable and share a story makes people think ‘maybe I can go do that’,” Ms Parker said.
“It’s more common than ever in a mining and male-dominated heavy industrial environment for workers to toughen up.
“They hide it. They don’t feel like it’s OK to ask for help so having these people on screen saying they did, and it worked, and here’s where you can go, or come and talk to me, was so helpful.
“We also saw an increase in the Employee Assistance Provider usage once we started rolling out the videos.
“We not only had positive feedback from employees but also from the people who were sharing the stories, which was not anticipated.
“We saw the physical release when people had finished sharing their story on video.
“They’d be like: ‘Wow. I feel such relief from not only being able to share my story but knowing that other people are going to hear this and get something out of it’.”
The concept was so effective in its simplicity that other businesses created their own versions. The response was overwhelming.
“Some external businesses including Lifeline and our unions started telling other businesses that they should get involved,” Ms Parker said.
“It went to about 20 other businesses in the Hunter region and was heavily supported by Lifeline.
“It had an impact on everyone who saw it.
“We received a lot of feedback from external companies who saw the videos; people who had seen it were sending us emails saying ‘this particular story resonates with me’.”
Molycop Australia President Michael Parker, pictured, said the business was proud to support such a worthy and relevant initiative.
“This year we want to bring even more people and businesses together, to shed light on this important topic,” he said.
“If people are getting help or even asking a mate for advice or opening up, then that’s great.
“Let’s share the burden and halve the load. As long as we’re talking to someone, it’s positive.”
Click on the link to see last year’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL0qtKs2_o4
Molycop has been a member of Ai Group for 50 years.
“Molycop has been a member of Ai Group for many years and throughout this time, we have received quality support from their team who have provided timely, effective and up-to-date advice on a range of areas including employment relations, safety, workers compensation and legislative updates. The Newcastle Ai Group team has also proactively facilitated networking opportunities with other member companies in the region through regular meetings and events. Ai Group is a trusted partner of our business.” — Chris Walsh, General Manager HR, Safety and Environment, Molycop
Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a former journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.