This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and employers across the country will be driving awareness and engagement around themes and resources to help their people live and work with positive mental health.
But there's a big professional population who are often excluded or forgotten during these weeks - freelancers.
Whilst we're often an active and integrated part of the team, it can be hard for employers to include their freelancers in activities during the week, either through concerns that they'd be seen as 'employees', not being on the 'all staff' emails, or not being based in the office where activities are taking place.
Even if invited, many freelancers will feel they 'should' be focused on doing their work for you, not taking time for activities and talks - as we worry it might be seen as slacking off, and reflect badly upon us.
So, for businesses who want to support their freelancers this week, what are some things you can easily do, and things that freelancers actually want and appreciate, to support their mental health - and indeed, you can do all year round.
Here are our top five suggestions for Freelance Friendly Mental Health Awareness Week activities.
1/ Signpost to freelancer focused resources
63% of freelancers don't know where to find support for their mental health at work, so help us close that gap. Whilst most mental health resources are appropriate and relevant to everyone - but it's important to make sure that your freelancers also have access to resources which are specifically tailored to the self-employed.
For example, resources you might be sharing on Burnout suggesting "take some time off" aren't always helpful.
Create a simple page on your intranet or website which signposts to freelancer focused resources, or let us create a landing page for you - we've done it for dozens of businesses and we even keep it updated on a regular basis.
2/ Ask for feedback, offer feedback
Don't make assumptions about what your freelancers need - ask for feedback on where they might want additional support, or indeed how working with you feels.
You can run these surveys anonymously, or let us do it for you on your behalf, so we can keep everything in confidence, and provide you with a number of recommendations of where to make improvements.
Offering feedback and following up after projects with your freelancers is also really helpful - its all too common that we don't hear where work goes or what impact it had, which can lead to feeling like our work never really delivers.
Use this week to get in touch with your recent freelancers and tell them what successes they were part of.
3/ Create a community for your freelancers
Create an alumni list where you communicate with all of your past freelancers, or even go as far as creating a community space for your network.
Not only does this allow you to reach out to people when you've got open briefs, it's a handy way of being able to communicate to your extended network around key events like Mental Health Awareness Week.
Use a platform like Substack, Mailchimp or Buttondown to create an opt-in mailing list, and invite your freelancers to join. You can go even further and create a regular engagement with your freelancers which helps us feel connected and part of your network.
4/ Pay people on time
Use this week to clear down any overdue or delayed payments, and get people paid. Overdue invoices are a huge issue for the self-employed, and the constant chasing and pestering takes its toll on our mental health and how much time we have to commit to you as a client.
Especially during the cost of living crisis, having income in our bank account when we're expecting it is really important.
5/ Review your ways of working with your freelancers.
Use this week, whilst you're actively thinking about the mental health of your people, to reflect upon your current process and ways of working with freelancers, and identify any issues or gaps which might be causing undue stress or anxiety for your extended workforce.
Check out the Freelance Friendly principles to understand some of the most significant areas of risk or concern, and put a plan in place to make improvements. Invite us in to audit your current ways of working with freelancers, and we'll put together a list of recommendations which improve the quality of work from your freelancers, and the quality of support your freelancers experience working with you.
Most importantly - these are things any business who relies upon or works with freelancers can be doing all year round - not just during Mental Health Awareness Week. Good clients are the biggest opportunity to help reduce the number of people in self-employment who feel they have no support for their mental health.
If you're interested in working towards becoming more Freelance Friendly, visit our site with resources and content for businesses, or drop us an email to find out how we can help.