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How to talk about mental health at work

26 Jul 2017
Colleagues discussing mental health at work

The most effective way to address an issue relating to mental health is to talk about it

There is something of an unwritten code of silence when it comes to discussing mental health at work. People are more instinctively inclined to try to hide any problem because of a perceived stigma.

However, this only serves to exacerbate the issue.

Business in the Community (BITC) has blazed a trail in helping organisations to build positive workplace cultures and produced a report titled Listen Up – Let’s Talk About Mental Health. This addresses another important factor behind why it is still a taboo subject.

The report states, “It is also important to remember that it is not uncommon for mental-health issues at work to be met with apprehension, suspicion or a certain degree of cynicism.”

Louise Aston is the wellbeing director at BITC and the first ever recipient of the IoD’s Leader in Mental Health Awareness award at the 2016 Director of the Year Awards. She says: “A number of organisations are waking up to the fact that failure to promote the mental wellbeing of employees can lead to long-term problems, including reduced competitiveness, lower productivity and fewer prospects for sustainable growth. Conversely, the rewards for businesses that engage with this issue are huge.

“A large part of this is making sure people feel equipped to start the conversation; this extends right through from boardroom leadership to empowering individual employees to have a voice.”

BITC has produced a booklet to help ensure that tricky conversations can be made easier, to help break down the silence that can stifle individual wellbeing.

Further reading

Listen Up – Let’s Talk About Mental Health This online booklet gives great ideas about how to talk about, listen to, respond and provide support when mental-health issues arise in the workplace.

This is Me – in the City is based on a highly successful campaign first developed by Barclays, who have successfully run it for two years and have seen a significant change in the culture and the way mental health is talked about within their organisation.

Time to Change is a government-backed initiative to end the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s a great, info packed website with ways to get involved, straightforward session plans, blogs and videos signposting to mental health services.

Mental health in the workplace

The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.

Visit our mental health in the workplace hub

Get involved in the conversation  or use the hashtag

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