Why mental wellbeing should be mission critical for firms - Harry Bliss
Harry Bliss, founder of Sheffield-based Champion Health, says that one of the reasons companies, that were in the past reticent about focusing on wellbeing, have changed their mindsets is because they can’t see their employees when working from home.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Bliss said: “I believe that although budgets are not necessarily there within companies at the moment, their whole focus is on making sure people are well.
“They can’t see their employees as they are now working at home. There’s a little bit of anxiety from business leaders as to whether their teams are okay.”
Champion Health offered its online mental health training to organisations free of charge during the lockdown.
“The reason behind this was we had organisations coming to us saying that we need to support our team but we haven’t got the budget at the moment,” the 26-year-old says. Mr Bliss added that as a “mission-led founder” he felt “really uncomfortable” turning people away at the start of lockdown when anxiety was really high.
Champion Health took a “significant financial hit” but the decision led to 400 companies signing up, including the likes of Honda.
“We’ve had some really exciting organisations going through the assessment to be able to optimise employee wellbeing,” Mr Bliss said. “To be quite honest, it is the easiest decision I have made as the CEO of this company.”
The young entrepreneur set up Champion Health two years ago after becoming frustrated at the outdated methods of the corporate health and wellbeing provider that he was working for.
Six months into setting up Champion Health, Mr Bliss lost his friend and mentor due to suicide. It became a key driver for the business.
He said: “It really shook me. I’d been receiving some mentoring from him and he had no previous history of mental ill health, he had a wife and two kids, everything on the face of it was amazing.
“He had a very good salary and a very good job. He raised over £750,000 for charity. He ended up taking his own life after a two-week bout of workplace stress.
“That’s when we set out on a mission to change and save lives.”
A lot of people end up masking mental health issues that they may be suffering from, Mr Bliss said.
He added: “When I struggled with my mental health, I was the best actor I’d ever seen. I just acted through. I looked really happy. I looked like I had a lot of energy and actually I was in a really bad place.
“There were problems before Covid-19 with mental health in the workplace but they were masked over somewhat. Whereas now businesses are concerned as they can’t see their employees and they are now starting to act upon it.”
The way businesses can help prevent people from masking is by creating a positive work culture, says Mr Bliss, where there isn’t a fear of talking about mental health problems.
He said: “Talking is the number one thing and it was for me when I struggled.
“The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders when I sat down and broke down in front of my tutor. I was going to drop out of university and he supported me through that. He just listened.”
While businesses are becoming more aware of workplace wellbeing there are far too many that still view it as a tick box exercise, says Mr Bliss.
Those that do take it seriously have a competitive advantage, he added, however, it’s also the “right thing to do”.
Reports that can be used for change
Champion Health’s platform assesses the wellbeing of the workforce. Workers go through an online health assessment that looks at mental health, muscular skeletal health, lifestyle health and examines energy levels.
The employee is given a personalised health report immediately, while organisations get an anonymised health report.
Champion Health employs six staff but also has 15 academics and GPs that work as consultants to make sure everything is clinically validated.
In the coming weeks, the business will be taking its headcount up to 10, says Mr Bliss.