Earlier this year, I attended a conference organised by the Women in FM group on the theme of Challenging the Mindset. The theme could have easily referred to the gender pay gap and sexual harassment of women which have hit the headlines recently. But it was the taboo subject of mental health at work which was the key topic of debate.
Over the course of the day we heard from people who had experienced serious mental health problems as well as experts talking about how to help yourself, and your teams, develop good mental health practices.
One of these was Karen Shaw from Time to change who compared our reaction to talking to a friend about their cancer treatment with how uncomfortable we could well feel talking about their treatment for mental health problems. “There is still such a disparity between the two. Talking about mental health should be as common as talking about physical health”, she said.
Karen went on to discuss how employers can get involved and that inspired me to sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge at Magenta, which is what we did today.
At Magenta, we want to help break the silence and end the stigma around mental health. One in four of us will be experiencing a mental health problem at any one time. My mother had a nervous breakdown in her youth and suffered from poor mental health all her life. My aunt suffers from severe anxiety so I know what it’s like to live with someone who faces these challenges. Nine in ten people who have experienced a mental health problem have faced negative treatment from others as a result.
That’s why we have signed the pledge. This is a commitment to change the way we think and act about mental health at Magenta. In order to sign the pledge we had to submit an action plan detailing how Magenta will tackle the stigma through positive dialogue with colleagues as well as introducing MH awareness polices and undergoing relevant training . Our plan includes planned monthly activities which will be organised by our health and well-being co-ordinator and employee champions – Magenta staff members who have signed up to help implement Magenta’s plan.
As well as providing support, advice and tips to help the Magenta team feel supported and know that we aim to break the stigma around mental health in the workplace, Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination and is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. With their support we are delighted to be launching our involvement.