About C&I Wellbeing

Wednesday 11 July

The National Theatre is working with senior health service psychologists at C&I Wellbeing – an organisation set up by staff from Camden and Islington NHS Trust – to help support the mental health of employees.

The C&I Wellbeing team have been providing mental health awareness training, as well as practical advice and toolkits to help managers proactively enhance their own mental wellbeing, as well as that of other staff.

C&I psychologists recently held a workshop for the cast and production team of the National Theatre’s production of ‘Nine Night’. They have also provided a range of one to two hour talks on topics including ‘Coping with Anxiety’, ‘Alcohol & Substance Misuse’, ‘Improving Sleep’, and ‘Grief and Bereavement’.

The aim is to ensure NT workers create a culture of openness regarding mental health and wellbeing, learn to recognize signs of stress and mental distress in themselves and others, and develop coping strategies to manage the inevitable pressures of working in one of the UK’s most famous artistic venues, which employs more than 1,500 staff and stages around 30 productions a year.

C&I Wellbeing was set up in 2017 by NHS clinicians, with profits from the venture being reinvested in caring for the Trust’s NHS patients.

The team has worked with a range of organisations including publishing giant, Pan Pacmillan, consultancies and law firms.

Dr Beverley Flint, who set up C&I Wellbeing with Dr Lisa Cohen, said: “Looking after an organisation’s biggest and most important resource, its workforce, is essential in ensuring that they provide the best service possible.

“It’s wonderful to see organisations taking such a proactive stance to address mental health in the workplace. However, stigma attached to mental ill health remains a hurdle to address.”

Phoebe Pickard, HR Advisor, from the National Theatre said: “Creativity has been shown to be the first trait to decline when someone is experiencing stress. As a leading creative organisation, it is therefore vital that we build a positive working culture for our staff in order for creativity to thrive and for us to stay at the top of our game – creating and producing world-class theatre.

She added: “We identified that our staff were experiencing anxiety, depression, eating disorders and stress in particular due to the pressures of the expected high standards, unsociable working patterns and creative demands they face.

“Whilst we still have a long way to go in tackling these issues, and the stigma attached to mental health, C&I Wellbeing have been an instrumental partner in helping us create an inclusive and open culture and getting us to our goal of making theatre for everyone and by everyone.

C&I Wellbeing have now trained up over 40 of the National Theatre’s managers in mental health awareness, and this is now being rolled out further across the organization.

Phoebe explained: “Cultural change and shift starts at the local level, with the relationship between manager and employee, and this training has been vital in helping us achieve this change.

“We have also held a variety of awareness and knowledge-raising talks and workshops for our staff around mental health and wellbeing, provided by C&I Wellbeing, and have trained up a selection of our staff to be Mental Health First Aiders.

“From these initiatives, we have witnessed an increase in the frequency and openness of conversations around mental health in the organisation and have seen a cultural shift towards how mental health and wellbeing is seen and approached within the National Theatre”.

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