A campaign has been launched in the City of London that aims to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace by encouraging employees who have experienced a mental health problem to share their story with colleagues via a video message or other medium.
This is Me – in the City, which is led by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, in partnership with Barclays, Business Healthy, City Mental Health Alliance and Mind, is based on the success of an initiative Barclays carried out 2 years ago which had 10 people share their story, with a further 160 subsequently sharing their own stories. It was seen by 60,000 Barclays employees in the UK.
More than 60 City institutions have already signed up to the initiative including Barclays, PwC and The Bank of England. The scheme is expected to involve more than 200,000 employees across the UK.
Workplace mental health problems are estimated to cost the UK economy some £26 billion a year through lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity. While 1 in 6 workers experience depression, anxiety or stress, many still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. A recent survey by Mind and YouGov found that, of those who had taken time off sick with stress, 95% gave their employer a different reason for their absence, such as a headache.
Lord Mayor Jeffrey Mountevans said: “This is Me – in the City is all about increasing, and improving, support for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. In the City of London, work environments can be extremely demanding and high-pressured. But this only makes it more important to encourage frank conversation, equip employers with better understanding of how to provide support, and remove stigma for employees.”
Poppy Jaman, programme director, City Mental Health Alliance said: “There has been tremendous progress over recent years in destigmatising mental health issues in the workplace. It’s been part of a broader trend in society, driven by education, a willingness among high-profile people to share their experiences, and a greater awareness of the impact it can have on your organisation. It isn’t about lost productivity, but a lost opportunity to increase the wellbeing of the workforce.”
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, added: “It’s important for businesses to foster an inclusive, supportive and open culture where your workforce feel able to talk openly about their mental health at work and know that if and when they do, they’ll be met with support, rather than stigma and discrimination. Staff who feel able to speak honestly about their mental health are more likely to seek help sooner. In the last few years we’ve seen great strides in promoting good mental health at work, including in the City. By getting involved with ‘This is Me – in the City’, your organisation can help join the movement for change, transforming the culture of your workplace to one where conversations about mental health are the norm.”
Caption: Lord Mayor Jeffrey Mountevans with campaign partners. L-r front Mark McLane, Barclays global head of D&I; Poppy Jaman, CEO CMHA, The Lord Mayor; Susan Bright, Hogan Lovells regional managing partner for the UK & Africa and Geoff McDonald, former global VP HR Unilever and now director of Connecting with People. Back: Javed Thomas, Lord Mayor’s Appeal director of development; Emma Mamo, Mind head of workplace wellbeing and David Caldwell, Barclays IT accessibility manager.