A campaign that seeks to reduce mental health stigma in the workplace in the City of London is now aiming to reach more than 1 million employees this year.
This is Me - in the City aims to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace by encouraging employees who have experienced unmanageable stress and/or a mental health problem to share their story with colleagues via a video message or other medium.
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal created This is Me – in the City in partnership with Barclays, Business Healthy, City Mental Health Alliance and Mind in 2016. Last year, more than 75 organisations signed up to the initiative with 22 of them running their own This is Me campaigns and sharing employees mental health stories. More than 100 individual stories were shared with a potential reach of over 420,000 employees.
Now in 2017, 17 organisations have joined forces as a committee to drive this campaign forward and to increase participation, with the aim of reaching more than 1 million employees.
Workplace mental health problems cost the UK economy over £26 billion a year through lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity, with 3 in 4 employees having experienced symptoms of poor mental health, according to the Business in the Community Mental Health at Work Report 2016.
Dr Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said that it is just as important for organisations to look after the mental health of their employees, as it is their physical health. “This is Me - in the City aims to breakdown stigmas and dispel myths around mental health, in order to improve our awareness and understanding of employee wellbeing,” he said. “Working environments in the City of London can be extremely demanding and high-pressured, and it is in the interest of businesses and their staff to collaborate in order to change the culture around mental health for good.”
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, added: “Stress and poor mental health at work are commonplace, especially within the high-pressure, fast-paced environment of the City. Employers can no longer afford to ignore these issues, which is why it’s refreshing to see so many organisations getting on board with ‘This is Me – in the City’. Workplace wellbeing initiatives such as these help raise awareness of mental health at work and tackle the stigma surrounding it.
“Employees sharing their own experiences sends a message to other staff that they can do the same. As well as encouraging employees to talk openly about these issues, it’s also really important that staff are reassured that if and when they do speak out, they’ll be met with support and understanding, rather than stigma and discrimination. Getting involved with ‘This is Me-in the City’ should be seen as just one part of a wider workplace wellbeing strategy in which employers aim to tackle the causes of work-related stress and poor mental health, promote wellbeing for all staff and support employees experiencing a mental health problem.”
Richard Martin, partner at byrne∙dean who has shared his personal experience, said: “The This is Me campaign is all about normal people telling normal stories which happen to include the fact they suffer, or have suffered, from mental health problems. By showing others that they are just ordinary people like everyone else, and that their illness is fine to talk about, we remove the fear, the stigma, the taboo.”