Interview with Lisa Deleu, Fonds Verhelst Manager at AB InBev
Hi Lisa! Thanks for chatting with us – can you share a bit about yourself?
Hello, I am Lisa, working for AB InBev for more than 4 years now.
Last year I joined the Fonds Verhelst team and took up the role of Fonds Verhelst Manager for BNFL. The Verhelst Foundation was launched in 1949 by Léon Verhelst, the former president of the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven. For Léon the wellbeing of the AB InBev employees and their families was his life project. At 76 years old, he wanted to create something that would support the workers long after his death.
As Fonds Verhelst Manager BNFL I am launching projects, together with my team, which support the mental and physical health of the AB InBev employees and/or their families.
Why do you think it’s important to discuss mental health in the workplace?
The workplace should be a place where people feel at ease, where they can be their true self. We spend quite some time at work, it is a big part of lives, therefore it is important that people feel comfortable to talk about mental health at work. If the workplace communicates openly about mental health initiatives the barrier is lower for the employees to talk about mental wellbeing.
What are AB InBev/Fonds Verhelst doing to challenge silence around mental health?
With Fonds Verhelst we offer several services to improve the mental wellbeing of the AB InBev employees. We communicate about this via several channels in the breweries, depots and in the offices. By communicating on a regular basis about the services we want to bring mental wellbeing to the attention and make it a smaller step to seek help. We are also organizing wellbeing weeks and webinars to highlight the importance of wellbeing.
Do you think it’s important to talk specifically about LGBTQ+ mental health?
To create an inclusive workplace, it is important to address everyone in the company. To make sure everyone feels at ease, and everyone can be the best version of themselves. Therefore, everyone in the organization should feel addressed and comfortable talking about mental wellbeing.
What advice would you give to an LGBTQ+ professional who is struggling with their mental health?
Start the conversation about mental health at work and don’t be afraid to talk about this with your colleagues and with your manager. If available, use the services that are provided by the company to strengthen your mental health. If there is a possibility, engage in a project that improves your mental health, communicate about it and be a promotor yourself.
How important do you think work-life balance is when it comes to mental health?
If you are able to maintain a good work-life balance this will undoubtedly positively impact your mental health. Here everyone should find their own optimal balance as every personal situation is different.
Do you think it’s still seen as “taboo” to discuss mental health in the workplace?
Companies have evolved a lot in the last years when it comes to the discussion of mental wellbeing. Managers play an important role in the communication about mental wellbeing. Some time ago I joined a team meeting and the manager himself shared a story about using psychological support during difficult times. Creating the awareness about mental wellbeing with managers in your organization is the first step in making mental wellbeing discussable.