You may have heard of something called mental health and wellbeing over recent years, if not then where have you been hiding?
Without wanting to call it a hot topic, as something we all have and not a new thing or a trend, mental health conversations do not look like they will be losing momentum any time soon, and with more and more people recognising the importance of balance and self-care, it’s something that is increasing in importance when it comes to event design.
Approximately 1 in 6 people in any given week will be experiencing some kind of health issue that is linked to their mental health, and 1 in 7 people also identify as neurodivergent. That is approximately 15-20% of your event attendees that could do with a little something extra to enhance their event experience.
Don’t forget though what is good for the 20% is also good for and benefits ALL your attendees, even if they don’t know it yet.
So where can you start? Well, the event wellbeing directory will serve as a great resource tool for you to be able to source qualified and expert suppliers and speakers for your event, so make sure you keep an eye on this space, in the meantime we wanted to provide you with five key elements essential to the design of your event to make sure you have the basics covered.
Safe spaces and mental health first aiders
You would not run an event without physical first aiders or medics on hand, so why would you consider running an event without a mental health first aider. Events can be overwhelming, tiring and triggering for many people, and panic and anxiety attacks can be common. It’s not just about mental health first aiders though, it is also about providing a space for quick decompression and for the first aid to be delivered discretely and privately, and a quiet room works perfectly for this. You can speak to organisations like EventWell who are experts in this essential service.
Variety and choice of nutritious food and beverage options, including alcohol free
The days of providing one menu for everyone, with one vegetarian alternative are rapidly disappearing behind us. There are many people who choose to eat particularly diets, or who choose not to drink alcohol (but would still like a grown up drink) for the simple reason that they want to manage their health and wellbeing better. None of these are fads and they are almost certainly here to stay. The options that would allow people to make these choices whilst attending your event are endless, and it can make a really difference to their experience with you, and any decision to return to your event in the future.
Think about the length of your keynotes and any knowledge and educational sessions. One of the plus points of the virtual events we saw during the pandemic was the rise of the bitesize session, the short 15-20 minutes max, high quality and engaging session, rather than 60 minutes of monologue, and powerpoint slides. Our brains working memory only has the capacity to hold information for 10-20 minutes, and it is not until we sleep that the data or stimuli we have received during the day will be processed into our long term memory. Taking things back to basics the top reason for holding an event should be for the exchange and sharing of information. Help your attendees with this, ask speakers to keep slides to a minimum, use interaction tools, and repeat key messages, all to give data in the working memory the best possible chance, and avoid back to back sessions at all cost.
Plenty of breaks and relaxation areas
This one goes hand in hand with the above, as well as making sure the session lengths are nice and short, make sure that you are providing plenty of breaks too. The event planning days of the two breaks and one lunch are also rapidly disappearing. Allow your attendees time for their brain to rest, digest and recharge between sessions. Perhaps they can do this in the quiet room that you will put in place for them?
Take care of you
Working in events is pressured and at times incredibly stressful. A happy and calm event organiser makes for a happy and calm event, so make sure you are putting your own oxygen mask on first both in the lead up and on those all important event days. Taking breaks, eating nutritious balanced food, and drinking plenty of water are all vital steps that you can take to keep your own mental wellbeing and stress levels in check.