Let’s harness the power of community for mental wellness

Let’s harness the power of community for mental wellness
Credit: Bronac McNeill

Strong community bonds create healthier workplace cultures. So how do we collectively do this for the industry’s greater good?

Leaders across our industry have been trying to solve the challenge of how to build our community back up since hybrid working became our post-Covid-19 reality.

From within teams to across the wider industry, this is something we need to solve collectively, as there’s plenty of evidence around how strong community bonds create healthier workplace cultures.

Hybrid working has been fantastic for many reasons. It opens up our organisations to a more diverse workforce and has helped many of us benefit from a better work-life blend.

However, hybrid working also leaves us with the question of how we get people together when that doesn’t happen organically, or regularly, in an office environment.

There’s a lot of evidence demonstrating the link between social connection and mental health. A recent study led by researchers at Nottingham Trent University, the University of Kent and Coventry University surveyed more than 13,000 people globally and found that enjoying strong bonds with close social circles and extended groups is associated with better mental health and wellbeing.

The more groups respondents had strong bonds with, the higher their engagement in health behaviours and the better their reported psychological wellbeing was, with less anxiety and depression.

The community conundrum

Nabs is keen to help to solve the community conundrum because of this link between community and mental wellness. The proven link between social connection and mental health drives much of Nabs’ events programme and service provision.

Those of us who have been in the industry for a while will have formed many of our connections almost without thinking. Spending five days a week in the office created a natural opportunity for people to share time with each other in real life. Even if you didn’t go out for after-work drinks, you could benefit from chats about work and anything else during the day. Plenty of us made friends that way.

Those entering the industry these days do not have the same natural opportunity for socialising and network-building. Nabs is clear that working from home has revolutionised our industry when it comes to accessibility and work-life blend.

The flip side is that we all need to make an effort to consciously create networks and help younger members of our industry to know where to go to do this.

All Ears, Nabs’ community consultation, revealed that over 70% of adlanders think more needs to be done about mental health in our industry. A worrying 35% of respondents said they wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking up about their own mental health.

Bringing people together to form communities can go some way to creating supportive atmospheres in which people can build trust — an essential basis for opening up about mental wellness.

Rebuilding our community

Nabs’ newest community-building event, Walk and Talk, returns in September, aiming to get people together and connecting with others from across the industry community. On the walk, people can take the time to connect with colleagues who they may not usually get the opportunity to talk to, meet people from different roles, sectors and levels, and have a chat with the Nabs team — all in a relaxed environment.

We’re still building ourselves back into a thriving network post-Covid. It’s going to take continuous effort. We all need to do more to help us get back on track when it comes to creating a welcoming, active and inclusive community.

At Nabs, we know first hand how much people appreciate the chance to come together at events. During the first Ride Adland we held after lockdown (pictured, top), the main comment we heard was: “It’s amazing to be back together again.” Which it certainly was.

Let’s create more amazing opportunities to connect as a community. You can sign up for Walk and Talk here.

Nicky Harris squareNicky Harris is commercial director at Nabs

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