Ever heard of Wellness Action Plans (WAPs)? These personalised tools can help you and your team thrive at work!
What is a WAP?

Inspired by Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®), an evidence-based system used worldwide by people to manage their mental health. The WAPs are a personalised, practical tool we can all use – whether we have a mental health problem or not – to help us identify what keeps us well at work, what causes us to become unwell, and the support we would like to receive from our manager to boost our wellbeing or support us through recovery.

Benefits of using WAPs:
  • Empowerment: Employees take ownership of the practical steps needed to help them stay well at work or manage a mental health problem.
  • Communication: WAPs open dialogue between managers and team members, creating a safe space to discuss challenges and needs. This improved communication can lead to stronger working relationships and a more supportive work environment.
  • Performance: Improved wellbeing has a direct link to better results and happier employees. Reduced stress and increased focus can lead to higher productivity and better quality work.
  • Prevention: Showing new team members your commitment to wellbeing from day one through WAPs demonstrates that you value your employees’ mental and physical health. This can lead to higher employee retention and a more positive company culture.
  • Support: WAPs provide a framework for smooth return-to-work transitions for employees who have been on leave for mental health reasons. The plan can identify areas where support is needed and create a clear path for reintegration into the workplace.

Making the most of your WAP:
  • Keep it Conversational: Think of it as a relaxed chat, not a rigid form to fill out. This will help team members feel more comfortable opening up and sharing their needs.
  • Be Flexible: Consider personalities and preferences. Offer different ways to complete the plan, whether that’s a one-on-one conversation, a video call, or by allowing team members to fill it out independently if that’s what makes them most comfortable.
  • Start Early: Onboarding is a great time to introduce WAPs and show your commitment to wellbeing right from the start. This sets a positive precedent for the working relationship and lets new team members know that their wellbeing is a priority.
  • Coaching, Not Dictating: Let your team member lead the discussion. There are no wrong answers! Your role is to facilitate the conversation and offer support, but ultimately, the plan should reflect the employee’s individual needs and preferences.
  • Embrace Individuality: What works for one person might not work for another. Some team members may thrive on social interaction and prefer group activities, while others may find solace in quiet reflection time. Be open to different approaches to wellbeing and tailor the plan accordingly.
  • Focus on Fundamentals: Include healthy habits like sleep, movement, and social connection in the WAP. These foundational elements are crucial for overall wellbeing and can be easily integrated into the workday.
  • Movement (this years mental health awareness theme): Encourage movement breaks throughout the day to combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Suggest walking meetings, both virtual and in-person. Additionally, consider offering or promoting wellness education resources on topics like exercise, healthy eating, and stress management. Studies have shown that regular physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase energy levels. Even small changes, like taking the stairs or going for a short walk during lunch, can make a big difference. Your WAPs can be the integrator for these encouragements!

Some examples of questions you might ask in a WAP

What helps you stay mentally healthy at work?

– Answers might include things like going for walk on a lunch break, working environment, getting to know colleagues, incorporating regular breaks from the desk etc.

What can your manager do to proactively support you to stay mentally healthy at work?

– Answers might include regular feedback and catch-ups, flexible working patterns, understanding signs of stress etc.

Are there any early warning signs we might notice when you are starting to experience poor mental health?

– For example, changes in normal working patterns, withdrawing from colleagues, more quiet than usual, tired from not getting enough sleep etc.

If we notice early warning signs that you are experiencing poor mental health – what should we do?

– For example, talk to you discretely, contact someone that you have asked to be contacted etc.

See all of these and more in the free template download below!

Remember, a WAP is a living document. It should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in your work environment or personal needs. By incorporating these tips and making movement a priority, you can use WAPs to create a workplace culture that supports the wellbeing of your entire team. 

Words by Tracey Dangerfield.

Download your FREE Wellness Action Plan Template and Guide Here:

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Why are we talking about introducing movement in Wellness Action Plans?

Get moving in the workplace!

Since 2001 the Mental Health Foundation has run an awareness week every May to highlight a specific theme for mental health. The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 is ‘Movement’ which will run from Monday 13th May to Sunday 19th May 2024. 

Want to learn more?

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