Mental Health Scrabble Letters LACE

I’m One in Four, and It’s OK. #TimeToTalk

I’m one in four, and it’s OK. It’s even profitable.

I am a Co-Founder and Research Director of a highly successful business. I have two small children who I believe are raised well and turning out to be good little people. In previous professional incarnations, I have represented Social Services in Children Act proceedings, as well as fostering vulnerable children. These are high-pressure roles with a lot of responsibility…so it may surprise you that I also have post-traumatic stress disorder. Does it make me worse at my job than I would have been otherwise? No. It makes me a better asset to my business because of the resulting understanding and lack of stigma I have around mental health issues. This is not some 'tokenistic', political correctness issue – my company’s progressive stance on mental well-being saves and makes us money.

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. [1]

Many of us, looking after teams, will have read up about mental health in the workplace. Lots of those articles and talks involve senior business people quoting mental health charity MIND’s well-known statistic that ‘1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year’ [1]. This is a promising start, before leading to discussions that mental health ‘affects staff’ and at best, ‘the workforce’ – a disappointing end where many speakers imply that mental health affects only those who are managed. They, as leaders and managers, emotionally distance themselves from any perceived weakness, failing to include themselves and their board-level colleagues along with the ‘mentally imperfect’ rest of us.

Why are we so afraid to speak out about mental health in a personal context?

526,000 workers in 2016-2017 suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety. [3]

Industry leaders who distance themselves from being open about their own mental health create a divide whereby we believe those at the top of the career ladder are all mentally infallible. This isn’t to say that we’re all capable of being ‘loud and proud’ about our own mental health issues, but it’s not something which should be a taboo subject in the modern age. Stigmas can discourage staff from being open about their own mental health. This includes asking for the support they may need.

The resulting financial costs to industry are significant, with 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK being attributed to mental health conditions [2] - and these are only the reported ones…

We say that much of this cost could be avoided if stigmas around mental health were broken down.

We’re investing heavily in the wellness of our LACE team, through both building a positive culture around mental health and supporting this with cutting edge technologies – like 360 Health & Performance. They offer bespoke programmes that empower people to measure, track and improve their health, supported by their 360 app. The app results trigger suggested small actions, which could be as simple as going for a break or a walk. They also offer coaching, webinars and seminars.

We’ve started Pace with LACE, where our team are encouraged to go out for a walk, either alone or with a colleague, and we’ve seen it really boost productivity. Holistically cared for people, whose wellness is taken seriously, are more effective at work – it’s that simple.

So, what are you doing at work to break down barriers around mental health? How seriously do you and your company take wellbeing?

 

Jenny Alburey, Co-Founder and Research Director

LACE Partners specialise in increasing the performance and productivity of people at work. For a free consultation please contact us at info@lacepartners.co.uk

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[1] McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.
[2] ONS. (2014). Full Report: Sickness Absence on the Labour Market, February 2014. [Online]. Available at: nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_353899.pdf(Accessed 14 January 2018).
[3] Health & Safety Executive (2017). Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2017. [Online]. Available at: www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pd (Accessed: 15 January 2018).