Creating an Action Plan

The Safer Communities Directorate in the Scottish Government created an action plan to build awareness, reduce stigma and provide learning and development options to staff.


Mental Health and wellbeing is a subject of great interest to the leadership team in the Safer Communities Directorate in the Scottish Government and there is clearly a strong business case for making sure that colleagues feel supported and are well managed when facing any mental health problems in the workplace.

Back in 2016 the co-chair of the SG Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee, as part of our Directorate, was actively communicating their work and we were keen to show our support and get more involved with the committee/network.

As a Directorate we analyse monthly absence stats. and look for any trends that might signify issues that require our attention. It was clear, as with most organisations, that stress and anxiety was being cited more frequently as the reason for absence. Anecdotally we were conscious that increasing workloads were also impacting on individuals.  We recognised a gap in corporate learning & development and saw an opportunity to better understand how people perceived our Directorate’s approach and culture.

We worked with See Me to anonymously survey the Directorate workforce to provide us with a baseline on our performance across a range of areas in relation to mental health.

It was immediately clear that “training” was a priority and that people wanted to better understand how they could help colleagues suffering from any form of mental health problem. Volunteers within divisions explored with colleagues what they would most benefit from. We worked with See Me to look at creating conversations and HR colleagues to discuss supportive absence management and reasonable adjustments. We realised that visible leadership support was vital to creating a space where everyone could contribute, participate and put forward their thoughts. We recognise that there are no silver bullets and the value is in building a variety of learning and development opportunities alongside a strong message of support and role modelling from the top. This has also opened up conversations on the menopause and we are working to reduce stigma and raise awareness on this too.

With the help of our See Me contact we created an action plan which primarily focused on building awareness, reducing stigma and providing a range of learning & development options to staff. 

Much of the work was taken forward by inspired colleagues across the Directorate in addition to the day job. The buy-in and support we had from senior leaders made this possible and they played an active part in communicating and promoting the actions. Our commitment was recognised and we became an official partner with See Me in 2017. This event was well attended by a number of senior Civil Servants, including the Permanent Secretary, and raised the profile of our work across the wider SG.

We completed the survey again a year later and could see some clear improvements across the range of areas that demonstrated our work was having a positive impact across the main categories.

People felt more supported by their manager and colleagues and also felt more comfortable to talk about their mental health in the workplace. We also saw a reduction in our absence stats. over a 12 month period, with  Directorate AWDL 1.4 days lower than the SG overall.  Although difficult to draw direct correlations, we also believe that this work contributed to our positive Directorate scores on the annual Civil Service engagement survey.

Most recently we set up a series of dedicated intranet pages to mental health and wellbeing where all Directorate colleagues can access useful articles, videos and signposting to support and advice. We are frequently approached by senior leaders across the SG to share our work and approach. We are working collaboratively with the corporate HR team to share what has worked for us and feed back comments from people involved. 

The mental health and wellbeing committee are invited to speak to all new starts to the organisation and mental health and wellbeing forms an integral part of the line manager development programme.

The organisation formally supported “Time to Talk” Day this year and there are regular intranet articles where people share their personal experiences and what helps them.

These articles always attract the most comments and highlight the interest people have in tackling mental health stigma and discrimination. As an organisation, we are clear about the importance we place on this topic and hope to have a published strategy and framework later his year.

Learn from Others

Pick up more tips from others.

Case studies