Now that our launch events are over, we can really reflect on the journey that Platfform Wellbeing has taken over the last few months from the seed of our idea right through to a fully formed offering. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but we couldn’t be more excited to see where our new wellbeing training and counselling services can go and who they can help.
What is Platfform Wellbeing and where did it come from?
Platfform Wellbeing is not actually a new service as it’s born out of a variety of projects that Platfform – the wider mental health and social change charity – were already running.
From the training side, Platfform were working with young people through their 4YP team to provide students and practitioners with wellbeing training courses and mental health education workshops; the Effro team were providing training to practitioners working with the elderly; the team from New Link Wales (who Platfform acquired in 2021) were offering a variety of training courses to those supporting people with substance abuse and other wellbeing difficulties. Platfform were also working with commercial and local authority organisations to develop organisational culture and explore the understanding of compassionate leadership.
On the counselling side, Platfform opened a Cardiff-based counselling and wellbeing centre in 2018 called Breathe, offering counselling for individuals, couples and children. By the end of 2022, Breathe had supported over 3000 people with face-to-face and online counselling covering a range of support modalities across South Wales and parts of the UK.
Platfform wanted to bring all of these various training projects and counselling services together as one entity and fully align the services with Platfform’s wider vision for sustainable wellbeing for all. Doing so by supporting organisations in proactive upstream activities while also offering the safety net of counselling for anyone needing individual help. [Read more about Platfform’s manifesto here.]
In March 2023, Platfform Wellbeing was born! – a service encompassing workplace training and counselling as well as continuing to offer the individual counselling formerly provided by Breathe.
Platfform Wellbeing focuses specifically on workplace training because we believe that through training and workforce development programmes across all sectors, we can help to foster compassionate leadership, culture, and practice. Given that work is a huge part of many people’s daily lives, it’s crucial that we feel we can be our authentic selves within the workplace and be fully supported in this.
Our UK-wide courses are aimed at leaders, managers, employees, individuals, and teams. They focus on providing practical tools and developing skills to safeguard our workplace mental health, creating open, honest, and compassionate workplaces in which everyone can thrive.
Launch day in London
On a beautifully sunny and crisp March day amongst the icons of Central London, the Platfform Wellbeing team welcomed HR professionals and those interested in learning more about compassionate leadership and lasting workplace wellbeing to a lunchtime panel. We were hosting this panel as part of the Wales Week in London events to introduce those outside Wales to Platfform and our new Wellbeing offering.
Ewan Hilton, our CEO at Platfform began by explaining more about the origins of Platfform Wellbeing and its value in relation to the wider charities’ mission:
“We are really excited to be launching Platfform Wellbeing, our new workplace training and counselling service, drawing on 30 years’ experience in the mental health sector. Platfform’s strategic vision is sustainable wellbeing for all, and workplaces are integral to fostering and maintaining good mental health for many of us.
That’s why Platfform Wellbeing is so important to the charity. It presents a real opportunity to provide an evidence-based way of supporting organisations and individuals to create the right leadership and workplace culture that means everyone has agency, feels valued, supported, is treated fairly, and can thrive.
Too many workplace mental health initiatives are reactive, too focused on ‘fixing the individual’. We believe in taking a more holistic, preventative approach by encouraging empathy, understanding and connection across teams and organisations. Connection with colleagues and safe spaces to be our authentic selves in work are critical to enable teams to support each other and feel supported.
All of Platfform’s work is underpinned by a trauma-informed approach to mental health as evidenced by our recent Manifesto which calls for an evolution in the way that mental health is understood and treated.”
Our clinical psychologist, Dr. Jen Daffin began her session by talking about what we mean by compassionate leadership through an exploration of a trauma-informed approach. She showed how trauma, life experiences, and socio-economic circumstances impact our mental health and our ability to heal. Rather than mental health focused on the individual and focusing on symptoms, it’s about looking at the wider determinants of mental health and promoting trauma-aware, compassionate, non-judgemental, and human responses.
To discuss the outcomes of Platfform’s trauma-informed training was Priya Datta, Head of Operational Development and Chair of the Wellbeing Group at UnLtd. Platfform Wellbeing provided a series of training courses for employees at UnLtd around trauma and mental health approaches and reflective practices for their line managers.
Priya believes that workplaces often misidentify the ways in which trauma can manifest as poor performance:
“I would like to see more workplaces becoming trauma-informed and leading with kindness, so that those who have experienced (and often still live with the symptoms of) trauma, benefit from the healing power of human connection through compassionate workplaces and are given every opportunity to succeed.”
Next stop Cardiff
One week later and our South Wales launch took us, in contrast, to a very wet and windy Cardiff, looking out over the iconic Cardiff castle for the continuation of our compassionate leadership panel. In addition to Dr. Jen Daffin, we were joined by our panel guests Dr Mikel Mellick, Senior Lecturer in Applied Sports Psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan University, Anna Denton-Jones, Employment Solicitor and Director from Refreshing Law Limited, and Claire Farren, Director of Operations from Spindogs.
Those in attendance and representing the private, public, and third sectors learned how our training sought to achieve a number of outcomes for employees within the organisations we worked, namely:
- Making it safe to be vulnerable and open and allowing people can bring their whole self to work.
- Giving people emotional literacy to be able to communicate with colleagues and not be afraid to do so.
- Making sure people are heard and feel they are listened to.
- And helping employers to develop the support structures needed to facilitate compassionate leadership and enable open and honest conversations.
Claire Farren spoke to us about her experience of inviting Platfform Wellbeing to work with Spindogs post-pandemic to help unite the team and empower them to create an open dialogue. It meant that “no conversation was off the table” and had a massive positive effect on their company culture.
“We are very much at the start of our journey as offering an open, honest, and compassionate organisation requires an ongoing effort but one we are committed to continuing.”
Dr. Mikel Mellick who works with sports people in demanding, highly intensive environments has seen the evidence of how a trauma-informed approach has benefited these sports people in their mental health by putting their wellbeing in front of the podium rather than a ‘win at all costs’ attitude. He sees the importance of storytelling as central to a compassionate workplace as it’s only by having the reassurance of a safe and supportive environment that people feel happy to tell their stories and connect fully with their colleagues.
Anna Denton-Jones spoke about how the more common workplace wellbeing system (or lack thereof in many cases) is not working because there still exists a level of fear (legal or otherwise) amongst management of having the conversation and asking questions for fear of what to do with the answer.
We had great engagement from our attendees who shared their own difficulties as managers and HR managers in how to best support their colleagues and employees. We were able to share more detail on some of Platfform Wellbeing’s proposed workplace training courses as a way of supporting organisations with the complex and challenging mental health and wellbeing needs of their employees.
What next for Platfform Wellbeing?
Following a busy couple of months for the Platfform Wellbeing team launching a new website and two launch events, now is where the real work starts (!) as we start to deliver the first of our new training courses to a variety of organisations.
Our ambition is to grow our offering throughout the UK, help inform thinking and provide sustainable mental health through compassionate trauma-informed workplaces. It’s also important to note that all surplus from Platfform Wellbeing commercial training and counselling are reinvested back into the charity helping to further our mission of sustainable mental health for all.
If you would like to speak to us about our training and/or counselling services for your organisation, please contact our Business Development Manager, Mary Rogers to find out more.