One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. So even if we haven’t had to face our own issues, we probably know someone who has.
Despite this, it’s thought only a quarter of those people are receiving professional treatment, leaving millions to battle on alone or rely on family and friends for support.
While celebs such as Rio Ferdinand, Ruby Wax and Will Young have spoken out about their own struggles, a stigma remains. In fact, nine out of 10 people with mental health issues are expected to experience discrimination at some point.
Thankfully, businesses are starting to take notice, as campaigns like World Mental Health Day gather momentum.
It’s something we’ve certainly observed among our clients. The traditional fundraising bake sale is giving way to real, game-changing initiatives aimed at supporting those with mental health issues.
Through a charity partnership with a mental health charity – as voted for by colleagues – Royal Mail has committed to raising £2 million in support of mental health services and increasing awareness among colleagues, customers and communities.
Hitachi Rail is holding a series of Tea and Talk sessions to encourage employees to seek support if they need it. They’ve trained colleagues to act as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA), should anyone wish to talk.
In Fusion, our award-winning magazine for Hitachi Rail colleagues, we spoke to a MHFA about the importance of this support, especially in a male-dominated industry that traditionally has a ‘man up, get on with it’ attitude.
Transport for London also recognises that attitudes towards mental health are changing. As one employee put it in our Upfront magazine, “a generation ago, people may not have known they were suffering from a mental health problem.”
The organisation is embracing openness with its WellMent Group – a mental health peer group where people can share their experiences in a safe and inclusive environment.
At Landsec, where workplace ‘safety’ has always been a big focus, leaders are starting to turn their attention to tackling poor mental health; something they say is a growing problem in the construction industry.
They are part of the Mates in Mind programme, which aims to improve mental health among this workforce. Every worker has an induction session on mental health awareness and senior employees undergo MHFA training.
At AB, our flexible working hours encourage a sense of trust in the team, while promoting a good work/life balance. We are all sensitive to the realities and demands of family life, but still have a sense of personal responsibility to each other and our clients.
This approach is something that makes me proud to work for AB and, I’m sure, more productive.
These changes are a step in the right direction to recognising the importance of keeping our minds, as well as our bodies, healthy. Even simple shifts in our working culture can make a huge difference to how we feel.