Our approach to positive mental health in the workplace by Orla O' Callaghan and Margaret Cleary.

Pen Orla O’Callaghan Glasses 3 min read

Good mental health is vital to us all and it is our duty to look after our mental health in the same way we look after our physical health. Laya healthcare received a special recognition award for “CARING” at the Great Place to Work Awards in February and this article was co-written by our HR Manager Margaret Cleary and our Occupational Health advisor from our internal Health and Wellness team, Orla O' Callaghan. Collaborating on the initiatives below yielded a great result for our team.

A 2015 survey by St Patrick’s Mental Health Service showed that mental health in the workplace is still taboo in many organisations. Only 21% believe Irish employers would be comfortable employing someone with a mental health problem. This research struck a chord with Laya healthcare. Although we always held mental health initiatives, in 2015 we launched a new mental health programme to start the conversation around mental health in the workplace and reduce the stigma that can exist. The strategy incorporated four key pillars.

  • Education (on awareness, supporting and preventing mental health issues
  • Get Active (physical activity)
  • Shared-Care (Minding Each Other)
  • Openness (fostering an open culture to accept and discuss mental health issues

Events as part of our Think Well programme included:

 Pieta House talks held with Customer Service Team leaders in October (Pillars 1 & 3),“Think Well” launch by Niall Breslin (Bressie) who presented a Mental Health Seminar to team members (Pillars 1 & 4) A Cycle challenge: “The more you move the better your mood” (Pillars 2 & 4), MindScore survey 2nd - 6th November (Pillars 1 & 4)

Promotion of internal benefits:

  • Bike to work scheme/ Gym subsidy (Pillars 2),
  • Social clubs  (Pillars 2 & 3)
  • Promotion of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) (Pillar 1)


  • “Minding your money for Christmas” to help minimise overspending and anxiety around bills before & after Christmas (Pillar 1).
  • ‘Dealing with Depression’ (Pillar 1).

Other fun things:

  • “My little things – postcard” desk drop of HSE postcards reminding team members of the little things that can help lift your mood.
  • “Walk in my shoes – Wear funky shoes” Visual impact of team in support of Mental Health awareness. (Pillars 4 & 3)


Laya Healthcare’s MindScore is a quick questionnaire used to evaluate mental fitness. MindScore has been designed by some of Ireland’s leading Psychologists to help participants understand their own mental health. MindScore is educational, not diagnostic. Following completion of the MindScore participants received an individual report on their own mental fitness and Laya Healthcare received a high-level report of the company’s overall mental fitness. Our MindScore results showed that team members average MindScore result was 74 out of 100 which classified team member’s mental health as ‘Very Good’. It also showed us areas that we can improve on which helped us to develop our 2016 calendar.

2016 Initiatives

  • Mental Health workshops for Managers and Team Leaders – helping managers to recognise mental health issues in team members and raising awareness of supports available.
  • “Make the Change” Motivational team talks with Gillian O’Sullivan, double Olympian.
  • 0-5K 8 Week Programme with onsite personal trainer.
  • “I Commit” – online programme focusing on improving your physical and mental health e.g. Mindfulness, Relieving Stress and Developing a positive attitude.
  • Launch of “Our Approach to Mental Health” – best practice guidelines.

We received a special recognition award for “CARING” at the Great Place to Work Awards in February. This particularly recognises our best practice approach Mental Health.  This is one award that we are particularly proud of as “Caring” is one of our values. We're still investing in programmes and initiatives designed to promote positive mental health in the workplace so that we continue to improve wellness in the workplace.

Orla O’Callaghan

Orla O’ Callaghan is the Occupational Health Advisor on the laya healthcare health and wellness team. She qualified as a Registered General Nurse from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) in 2009 and worked in London for three years. She graduated with MSc in Occupational Health from NUIG in 2012 and completed a traineeship with the European Agency for Safety and Health at work following this. She has a keen interest in workplace health promotion and in particular mental health awareness. She is currently studying counselling and psychotherapy in CIT. Although she lives in Cork her heart belongs to Co. Clare!