“Corporate leaders do bear great responsibility for the wellbeing of their workplace.”
Corporate leaders do bear great responsibility for the wellbeing of their workforce, but we as individuals also have to take responsibility for our mental health, just as we do for our physical health. Having said that, we know that it is leaders who can make the difference in how they support the mental health of their workforce. Take flexible working. There’s plenty of evidence that allowing part time work, or allowing the day to start later or end earlier, can greatly help those who suffer from a mental health problem. Corporate leaders also set the atmosphere in the workplace in terms of stigma and whether workers feel able to discuss their mental health. We can do a lot to look after our mental health, but we can’t do so without corporate leaders showing the way.
I have personally experienced depression myself and know what a debilitating illness it can be. My own openness has in turn led to colleagues talking to me about their experience, and how difficult they’ve found it to be honest when they’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. I’ve been shocked by the level of stigma in many companies which I’ve come across in my work for mental health charities as an ambassador for Sane, Rethink mental illness and Young Minds. Having said that, while I’ve seen the problems that mental illness can cause while people are struggling to hold down a job, I’ve also seen people recover – 70 per cent of those who suffer from depression do get better. I’ve also seen some great examples of employees being supported in the workplace.
Wow, that’s an easy question! Well, my own advice is that we need to teach the next generation to take their own mental health as seriously as their physical wellbeing in the workplace. Depression is set to be one of world’s leading causes of mortality in the next five years according to the World Health Organisation: workers of the future need to build a toolbox of strategies not just to survive but to thrive.
Rachel speaks publicly about her experience of depression and recovery, and regularly writes for press and gives TV and radio interviews to help educate and break down the stigma around mental health. She also runs workshops for mental health organisations, companies, charities and universities to share what she has learnt about how to stay calm and well. She is an official ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness, Young Minds, Sane and The Counselling Foundation. Her latest book “The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood” food was published in January 2017.