Hot topic: Mental health at work
Can businesses and HR help improve the country's attitude to mental health, and where does the responsibility for this lie?
Mental health and the stigma associated with it remains a challenge for us all – personally and professionally. We all have mental health like we all have physical health, and both of these change throughout our lives.
Our minds, like our bodies, can become unwell but the mental health aspects are not as obvious to us as a broken leg – but this doesn’t make them any less important. We need to try and open up the debate on mental health and HR professionals could be one of the routes to start this conversation.
However, we all have a role to play in this area, not just HR, and the role we can all play in our respective organisations is wide and varied. It is also personal – and personal to the business. Anyone trying to address mental health issues through a one-size-fits-all approach will struggle. What is vitally important is an understanding of the company, its issues, its culture and the challenges it faces. These will always be specific to the organisation and may require some very specific interventions. Understanding this is an area HR could help with.
For interventions to be successful it is important we give people the space and confidence to speak about their own mental health situation and experiences, and that we recognise there are tools and campaigns that we can draw upon to start to encourage that debate. One campaign that has been especially helpful to our organisation is the Time to Change pledge. Starting with commitment from the top – in our case our CEO – signing the pledge is a visible commitment to addressing mental health in the workplace and is incredibly powerful as it gives people the confidence to speak up and discuss their story.
HR can play a part but we all have a collective and joint responsibility to play a role, share our experiences and support each other. Change starts with each and every one of us.
Shaun Davis is group director of safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability at Royal Mail Group
Check back tomorrow to read part two of this Hot Topic.