Mind CEO Paul Farmer on employee mental health and This is Me campaign

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this is me

Since its inception in 2016, more than 1,200 organisations across the UK and internationally have registered for The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s pioneering mental health initiative This is Me.

Comprising This is Me Storytelling, The Green Ribbon, and Wellbeing in the Workplace, the This is Me initiative is committed to changing attitudes around mental health, striving to create healthier and more inclusive workplaces by reducing stigma, dispelling myths and improving employee wellbeing for good.

With an estimated 91 million workdays in the UK lost every year due to mental health problems, supporting your employee’s wellbeing must be a priority for businesses, in London and across the UK.

To begin the initiative, The Lord Mayor’s Appeal was joined at its launch event by Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, who took some time to speak about mental health in the workplace and the importance of having a framework like this in place.

“It is crucial that workplaces talk openly about mental health,” Paul said. “Stigma around mental health brings up barriers so people who could have had early intervention don’t get help until they are at crisis point.

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“Research found that one in six people in the workplace will experience stress, depression, and anxiety in any given year. Being open boosts inclusivity and morale, and allows people to bring their whole self to work as well as a more productive workforce. Put simply, mental health at work is just as important as it is at home, or anywhere else.

“Humans love to mentally compartmentalise, keeping our work and private lives separate. While this approach sounds logical, however, it’s not how our brains are wired. Issues at home can deplete our personal resources, making it more difficult when work demands increase. Workplace issues will spill into our personal lives, and this could worsen our mental health.

“The main challenges in 2022 for businesses around mental health will be companies’ abilities to be adaptable and flexible to meet people’s individual wellbeing needs. There is anxiety around returning to the workplace, whether this is about commuting, financial challenges, physical safety or social distancing.

“The other main anxiety is around the transition to hybrid working, where people are concerned about loss of work-life balance, apprehension around changes in practice, apprehension for long-term remote working, concerns around progression and loss of autonomy.

“Businesses can help by developing a preventative approach. It is important each business understands its people and takes a person-centred approach by taking account of the intersectionality between mental health and other issues.

“In a work capacity, make sure there are forums and ways that staff can share their experiences and shape the organisational strategy, carrying out regular interviews with employees to talk about mental health can help highlight improvements.

“Flexibility in terms of ways of working, communication preferences, benefits package etc are also ways that can benefit employees’ mental health and, of course, businesses should also develop an effective employee wellbeing strategy, and this is where signing up to an initiative like This is Me can help.”

It is free to register for This is Me and on March 24 The Lord Mayor’s Appeal will also be launching the This is Me Resources Hub which will provide free access to This is Me’s three tools, along with a selection of guides, advice and news, as well as upcoming events.

For more information, visit thelordmayorsappeal.org/initiatives/a-healthy-city

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