Wellness action plans

A Wellness Actions Plan (WAP) is an easy, practical way of helping you to support your own mental health at work and, if you are a manager, helping you to support the mental health of your team members.

Wellness Actions Plans are for everyone, not just someone who has an issue right now. They can help to identify when and why you might experience difficulties so that practical steps are in place should you start to feel unwell, stressed or unhappy.

If talking about your mental health and wellbeing at work makes you feel uncomfortable a WAP can be especially helpful. They are a good way to share what makes you happy and keeps you well – and what makes you stressed and unhappy too.

What should a WAP include?

A WAP should include guiding questions and suggestions to help someone fill it in. It should explain that the document is confidential between the employee and manager unless the employee consents to it being shared further.

A WAP should encourage some to think about:

  • what they are like when they are well and are happy at work
  • how they can support their own mental health and wellbeing
  • what has worked well in the past
  • what hasn’t worked so well in the past
  • any existing support or reasonable adjustments that have already been put in place
  • any early warning signs of poor mental health that managers can look out for
  • what are the triggers to poor mental health or stress at work
  • how poor mental health or a specific mental health problem might affect their work (if at all)
  • the steps they will take to manage stress or poor mental health at work
  • what support they might need from their manager

How do WAPs help me as a manager?

Using a Wellness Action Plan can help you fulfil your duties as a line manager. It can:

  • help you structure and start talking about mental health with staff
  • provide you with a better understanding of your employees’ experiences and needs
  • help to identify reasonable adjustments for consideration
  • support development of policies and procedures
  • help ensure employees are supported following an absence from work
  • demonstrate to new starters that you are committed as an employer to their wellbeing.

How do WAPs help me as an employee?

As an employee, a WAP can help you:

  • think about and share what supports your mental health at work
  • think about and share what makes you unwell at work
  • think about and share things that can help keep you well
  • talk about any support you might need for a specific mental health problem
  • review your experience and approach regularly – making sure the support you receive fits with where you are right now
  • supports you to feel empowered and in control

Setting up and using WAPs

Check whether your organisation already offers a WAP template and guidance.

If they don’t, you may want to set one up within your team and consider making the case for organisation-wide take-up of the initiative.

You might want to introduce the idea of a WAP in one-to-one sessions or as part of appraisals with employees and encourage them to have a go filling one in. Remind them it’s a personal document that is unique to them and that it should explain their experiences and needs in a way that makes sense to them.

Plan some time to discuss the WAP and any reasonable adjustments with them before it is finalised and agreed for sign-off. Explain what might be possible but try not to offer too many of your own suggestions – it’s much better if it comes from the individual to ensure full buy-in to the initiative.

Make sure you review it regularly. A WAP should be a dynamic and flexible tool.

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