It’s a well known fact that work related stress can either trigger new or aggravate existing Mental Health conditions. Statistics conveying the financial cost to business of mental ill health, are commonplace. So when the Centre for Mental Health calculated in 2017 that mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion each year, forward thinking businesses began to invest in wellbeing initiatives. Deloitte found that the return for every £1 invested in workplace mental health interventions was £4.20.
However it’s not just the obvious business case for investing in wellbeing initiatives which aim to reduce stress, it’s the legal and moral cases too. Keeping our business colleagues mentally healthy and able to ‘remain and thrive in work’ ( Stevenson and Farmer) is arguably the right thing to do.
So, based on CAL’s success in schools, colleges and universities, workplaces are now benefitting from interactions with our professional, Public Liability Insured, trained dogs and our MHFA qualified, confidential practitioners. It’s proven that stroking a calm dog reduces blood pressure and inhibits the production of cortisol, our stress hormone. Our sociable, engaging dogs ooze affection and seek interaction in a far more mentally healthy way than checking your phone screen. This was illustrated in the heartwarming feedback from our most recent visit to Serco HQ, with employees even ‘popping in’ on their day off just to meet the dogs!
‘This was amazing and the best day at work ever!’
‘My time with (the dog) was lovely, it really made me feel great just having some time to sit with her.’
‘This was one of the best sessions arranged recently that I’d been to. I enjoyed it immensely and can see and feel the health visits of the visit. Please arrange another session soon!’
‘I would highly recommend this for staff who need some time out from stress.’
‘It would be such a wonderful thing…to have monthly visits from these amazing creatures and their therapist and would be a very good thing to spread this action over the other UK offices.’
It’s not just the instant de-stress of interacting with dogs though, it’s CAL’s sensitive and skilled use of the dogs as communication tools. They are a ’social lubricant’ and in a successful dog/practioner pairing, it’s an effective way in to work related stress conversations, which take place in complete confidence. These conversations could help empty the employees’ ‘stress container’ and could indeed be pivotal in that person seeking help.
Strategies can be suggested/discussed to build a person’s resilience, just as CAL does in educational settings. Our MHFA training equips us to recognise MH conditions and to signpost employees to sources of help. In addition, the presence of CAL’s dogs certainly promotes conversations between employees. Sometimes it’s very hard to leave the workplace for the dog’s ‘comfort break’ as just one more employee wonders if they can stroke the dog! It also raises awareness of MH issues in the workplace and by ’normalising’ it, reduces stigma too.
So, if you want to help reduce work related stress in your business and help your employees to develop resilience to remain and thrive in work, invite in our CAL dogs; they’d be delighted to meet you.