If you receive Mad World News, you’ll be aware that we recently sent out a survey to canvass opinion on attitudes to mental health in UK workplaces.
We are delighted with the response and we’d like to thank all those you took the time to answer. We were particularly pleased to see from the responses that workplace mental health and wellbeing is a subject that so many employers are passionate about; and it’s clear so many of you want to contribute to positive change in this space.
Attitudes are improving but senior business leaders must do more
It justifies our decision to establish Mad World and play a pivotal role in harnessing this change and to usher in a new era of workplace health and wellbeing.
The results gave us more insight into what we suspected – that attitudes to mental health are improving in the workplace, but senior business leaders must do more to help employees.
In response to our opening question almost three-quarters of respondents felt that there had been either slight improvement (42%) or significant improvement (32%).
However almost 80% of respondents felt there was still some stigma associated with mental health issues in their workplaces, with 20% of this total suggesting that colleagues who talked openly about mental health are viewed negatively.
Conversely this meant that almost 20% of those questioned claimed there was no stigma and colleagues who talk openly about their mental health are not viewed negatively.
These figures came from our second, two part question:
Passion, consideration and desire to effect change
The survey’s final question was more open ended and this is where we saw passion, consideration and an overwhelming desire to effect change across this area.
When asked ‘What do you think are the most important steps organisations can take to make the shift from stigma about mental health to solutions?’ it is evident that employees think the companies they work for – and senior leaders within them – must do more around mental health. This includes:
● Senior leadership must openly discuss mental health
● More training for line managers
● Develop an open culture and talk openly at all levels – for example in 1:1s
● Stop “macho cultures” of working long hours and encourage employees to achieve goals and give praise when completed
● Demonstrate a caring, understanding attitude to staff
● Bring personal stories to the fore
One senior leader who has openly discussed her mental health is Virgin Money’s CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia. She admitted suffering post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter and had “suicidal thoughts” because of the intense pressure as Virgin Money was preparing for a stock market flotation.
She believes it’s time for businesses to speak more openly about mental health issues and that her own battles with mental health problems have made her stronger.
Leading by example
Of course, companies are in different places on the spectrum of helping employees overcome mental health issues. One shining example is the Bank of England, which is part of the This is Me campaign from the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. This London-wide mental health campaign aims to reduce stigma and dispel the myths around mental health in the workplace.
Employees at the bank have been speaking about their experience of mental health problems in this short video.
The Bank offers a range of services to promote mental wellbeing, including in-house staff counsellors. In addition its Mental Health Network, an employee-led diversity and inclusion networks, works with HR and the staff counsellors to raise awareness and improve understanding around mental health conditions, and highlights the support available to staff.
Changing the narrative around mental health
At the Mad World event itself, we are really excited about changing the narrative around mental health. Sadly, even though as our survey shows progress is being made and stigma is reducing, those two words – mental health – still have predominantly negative perceptions and connotations. For example, they are often accompanied by images of people looking dejected or curled up in a corner. Our goal is to shift this narrative to a more positive one – to talk about positive and energised mental health, and to help attendees understand how to ensure employees can achieve this state.
We look forward to seeing you on October 9.
Thrive Global readers can save 25% on a delegate pass by using the discount code THRIVE25 when registering: http://www.madworldforum.com/registration.php
This article first appeared on http://www.madworldforum.com. Mad World is Europe’s only event that puts mental health at the heart of the business agenda. Be inspired by those that are leading the way; source the right solutions for your organisation; and share ideas and experiences.