How Nationwide are Driving Cultural Change Around Mental Health


The Nationwide Building Society is a British financial cooperative. With over 15 million members, it’s the largest building society in the world and is the second largest provider of household savings and mortgages in the UK.

In response to the pandemic, the organisation redoubled its efforts to support the mental health of its employees across the country, creating a positive culture of care around mental health.

Employers often find it hard to engage employees with the wellbeing solutions that they make available. This article outlines how Nationwide’s communications have driven over 35% uptake of their chosen mental wellbeing platform within 6 months – helping to create a positive culture around mental health.

Nationwide’s wellbeing goals

Last year, Nationwide had already planned to bolster its mental health programme to support its people, challenge stigma, and effect cultural change. Then, as the country suddenly locked down, the building society accelerated its plans to roll out the Unmind workplace mental health platform to its employees.

Nationwide’s wellbeing and comms team worked together to spearhead the initiative and spread the message. Their goals were:

  • To drive cultural change around mental health.
  • To empower colleagues to proactively look after their mental health.
  • To increase awareness and adoption of the Unmind platform.

Platform launch 

Nationwide aimed to send a positive message around their mental health initiatives and to reach employees across all locations. For this, the team went above and beyond the usual channels and harnessed creative ways to put out a clear, consistent and compelling message.

1. Live radio

The internal radio station was used to promote Unmind by sharing testimonial stories about employees using the product. During the week leading up to World Mental Health Day in October, the team also played a Daily Boost (a short, in-the-moment wellbeing exercise) through live radio aired across around 600 branches and offices. This was also streamed online for those working from home, to a potential 17,000 listeners.

2. Webcast ads

Creating bespoke ads to be played before and after webcasts was a great way to engage with employees before they entered meetings or live events, while concentration is high.

3. Leadership newsletter

Nationwide’s leadership newsletter provided the ideal opportunity to spark top-down advocacy.

4. External press release 

As well as using internal channels, Nationwide also promoted the partnership externally to the press.

5. Ongoing campaigns for cultural change 

One of the recipes to ensure employee uptake of a mental health initiative is to keep the topic accessible and discussable. Nationwide successfully employs strategies which lead to a continuous increase in uptake and activity.

6. Weekly user stories

Each week, a story is shared about how an employee is engaging with the platform – whether it’s how they used lessons from an Unmind Series to help a colleague who was struggling, or how they used a Tool to sleep better. Sharing these stories keeps the platform front-of-mind while also promoting the variety of ways it can help.

7. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind Campaign

Unmind dedicates itself to run quarterly user campaigns to engage users with the platform. In July, the Healthy Body Healthy Mind campaign promoted the importance of physical and nutritional health to our mental wellbeing.

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Campaign activities included a ‘Eat, Move, Be Healthy’ webinar, the promotion of related platform content, and a prize draw. By completing a health-related series, a Nationwide employee called Carmen Geeleher was delighted to win a £100 Decathlon voucher.

8. Leadership webinars and events

Dr. Nick Taylor, CEO & Co-founder, and Steve Peralta, Chief Content Officer & Co-founder of Unmind have joined Nationwide leaders for webinars played across Nationwide branches. During these discussions, members of the leadership team share stories about lived experiences of mental health challenges, either personally or through loved ones.

The authenticity with which leaders speak out about mental health really resonates with the workforce. The first webinar resulted in an even greater spike in uptake than launch day itself.

9. Digital conference 

Nationwide created a ‘virtual world’ to facilitate a leadership conference in which wellbeing was a key item in a broad agenda. Delegates could navigate this world and interact with events, which included:

  • A convention centre with a keynote speaker.
  • A stadium with physical wellbeing offerings.
  • An area with wellbeing pods where Unmind is hosted.

10. Winter wellbeing

In November 2020, Nationwide launched a winter wellbeing campaign dedicated to making meaningful human connections, and empowering employees to give themselves space and recharge.

As part of a spectrum of initiatives, Nationwide promoted Plus One – Unmind’s feature which enables users to share the platform with a friend or family member – and signposted employees to a range of Unmind Series and Tools to help them connect and unwind.

The results

By leveraging the communications channels available and working closely with their supplier, Nationwide has been able to create significant cultural change around mental health at work.

Since launching in May 2020, Nationwide hit 35.5% uptake of the Unmind platform among its entire workforce.

Faye Whitmarsh, Director of People Strategy at Nationwide, said: “With the outbreak of Covid-19 at the start of this year, and the subsequent lockdowns, our mental health is more important than ever. At Nationwide, we want to make sure that the right support is available for our people at the right time, as we give them the tools to take care of their own wellbeing, and that of others too. We want to see our people thrive, not just survive when it comes to our mental health”.

“Our very foundations are built on the notions of mutual kindness, respect and understanding and this unwavering commitment to looking after ourselves, and each other, meant we could accelerate the roll-out of Unmind to our people at the very start of lockdown”.

“Unmind is a key part of a broader strategy that focuses on the wellbeing of everyone at Nationwide, both colleagues and members. It represents a commitment to continuously evolve and rethink how we work, how we support each other and how we build a workplace that is diverse and inclusive to its core”.

Carmen Geeleher, Personal Banking Manager, added: “The offer of Unmind from Nationwide came at just the right time. With such a broad range of content from mindfulness to mental health, and from managing mood to being kind there is something there to help, no matter how you might be feeling. As a busy wife, mother and full time employee, it helped me to take some time for myself, to reflect a little more, manage my own wellbeing and focus on mindfulness”.

“When faced with such unusual times, it’s been a great tool that I can delve into at any time when I need extra support, or a different perspective, when things might not be going as well as they usually do. Unmind has helped me to help myself, which means I can help others to do the same.”

This article first appeared on the Umind blog.

About the author:

Oliver is a writer and communications manager at Unmind, the workplace mental health platform. With an editorial background in publishing, technology and mental healthcare, he covers topics ranging from digital transformation to human psychology. He and the team at Unmind are on a mission to rebrand mental health, building a world where it’s universally understood, nurtured, and celebrated.



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