For the first time EVER senior business leaders have publicly shared their personal mental health experiences, in an effort to eradicate workplace mental health stigma. The ‘This is my Story’ event took place in London on 7th December 2016 and was organised by Minds@Work, a movement co-founded by Geoff McDonald, former Global VP of Human Resources at Unilever, Executive Director at Open Minds Health and passionate campaigner for breaking mental health stigma within the corporate world.
Research reveals that a staggering 71% of the people would worry about disclosing a mental health problem to their employer, fearful of receiving a negative response. A valid concern given that 1 in 5 people have lost a job at some point in their life following mental health disclosure or inappropriate disclosure on their behalf.
The implications of non-disclosure of mental health conditions has wide implications for both the employee and employer. Employee’s who feel unable to openly discuss their mental health are highly likely to experience increased professional anxiety, with no line management support, and risk finding themselves in a downward spiral leading to further mental health problems that could otherwise be avoided. For employers, the associated costs in terms of increased absenteeism, presenteeism, staff replacement and reduced productivity are significant; particularly as one in four people experience a mental health problem at any given time. The total cost of staff mental health problems to UK employers is estimated to be around £26 billion each year, the equivalent to £1,035 for every employee across the UK.
Employer’s that lead by example and purposefully create a culture that openly discusses mental health, can and will remove the stigma sting. Stigma relies upon ignorance, prejudice and discrimination for its survival. Introducing a framework that educates, supports and challenges attitudes and behaviour provides confidence to employee’s struggling that disclosure won’t result in negative consequences.
The ‘This is my Story’ event has gained media attention from BBC Online, BBC Business Daily, BBC Worldwide and The Telegraph, coverage that will no doubt help Minds@Work achieve their aim to normalise workplace mental health discussions and “create mentally and emotionally healthy and human workplaces where individuals can flourish and organisations prosper”