Tim Holbrough, AVP Consultant on BRUIN’s Credit & Risk Management Desk recently attended the This is Me Mental Health Awareness Week Celebration at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor. He shared with us his account of this worthwhile event and read more about BRUIN’s CSR initiatives here.
“I was fortunate enough to secure an invite to this years’ This is Me Mental Health Awareness Week Celebration at the Mansion House. Having attended this event in previous years, I’ve experienced stimulating discussion around changing attitudes towards mental health and improving employee wellbeing, and this years’ event proved to be no different. Around 100 people representing a variety of different occupations and institutions were in attendance. This article will provide a summary of the content of the discussions, and share insights into how firms and their employees can approach the challenges faced in implementing robust mental health improvement processes.
The opening gambit introduced a trifecta of topics for consideration: practical challenges, stigma and collaboration. Public services for mental health and wellbeing are drastically underfunded, and as such there is a huge emphasis on business to pick up the slack in providing practical solutions. However, before any practical solutions can be discussed, leadership has to be engaged, and, where possible, it should be encouraged for senior leaders to share their stories on their experiences with mental health. The aim of this is to help staff to realise that success is very much achievable where these issues exist, and provide benevolence and empathy to those experiencing similar situations to those encountered by the leadership.
With leadership engaged, it’s also important for management to be given proper training on how to recognise issues, and the right vocabulary to use in approaching them. Most will want to help, as positive mental health and wellbeing will naturally lead to a more productive and high-performing employee (and by implication a more successful manager!), but in the majority of cases they don’t necessarily know how to help!
The second topic raised was around the stigma of mental health issues, and how in the business sector this stigma is more deeply entrenched than in other areas. The worlds of sport, television and the arts have seen a number of their prominent figures speak publicly about their stories; whereas in the business sector such public displays are still much more taboo. Two senior business leaders shared their personal experiences to the room later on in the event, and were well received doing so, however the overall consensus is that the business sector has significant room for improvement in this regard.
Thirdly, the need for businesses to collaborate in approaching these issues was addressed, as there are a number of common issues that transcend different organisations. SMEs in particular struggle to access the same level of support material as global firms, and potential solution of providing a shared online portal service for firms to share ideas was discussed. Furthermore, a common theme of the round-table discussion between me and employees from three Financial Services firms was challenges pertaining to resource allocation for mental health within firms. It’s all very well talking a good game about mental health, but without allocating tangible resources to the issue, businesses will struggle to sustain momentum and implement lasting change on this subject.
Following the event, I am hoping to use the ideas discussed to continue to bring about the implementation of practical solutions to mental health and wellbeing within my own company, a Financial Services Recruitment SME, and will look to share any progress with the wider community. If you’ve read this article and would like to discuss anything I’ve written about, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.”