If you broke your arm, the injury would be on display for everyone to see. People at work would offer to sign the cast, ask how it happened and help you however possible. But mental health is a different story – people often find it difficult to talk openly about what’s troubling them, especially in the workplace.
For a long time, there has been a sense that the office is not the right environment to try and tackle the issue of mental health. However, given that a recent Deloitte study found one in six UK employees have been forced to take time out from their career due to stress or mental health pressures, it’s in the interest of employers to be a driving force in improving the wellbeing of their staff. The tide is now turning, with a consensus that it’s time to talk about mental health – but it’s even more important to listen.
We’re really proud of our company culture at FieldHouse, but we’re always looking to do more to make it an even better place to work and improve how we communicate. Recently, the team attended two events that employed different approaches in very contrasting settings but, crucially, both stimulated the conversation around mental health with different audiences.
Sanctus, an organisation that works to normalise the mental health discussion at work, chose the intimate setting of The Tea Building in Shoreditch for their ‘Mental Health in Startups’ event. During an intense, interactive session, speakers and the audience were given a platform to talk freely and honestly about their own experiences and receive ‘acknowledgements’ for sharing their story. It was an emotionally raw experience that did a great deal to address the elephant in the room – the reality that no matter what walk of life, everyone has mental health.
A few weeks later, Katie Behrens from The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust gave a talk at the striking Cutlers’ Hall in St Paul’s about what mental health and ill health actually mean, and why they’re especially important topics in the workplace. Katie enlightened the crowd about concepts such as the black dog and the signs to recognise when someone might be struggling.
For an audience that perhaps wasn’t used to discussing mental health, the talk took a deep dive into how to practically look after your own personal mental wellbeing and the vital differences between empathy and sympathy when it comes to listening to your colleagues.
Breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace and changing the way it is dealt with will undeniably take time, but events like these are definitely a step in the right direction. Bringing the conversation to the fore by increasing awareness amongst different generations in diverse settings is the first step towards creating an empathetic workplace in the future that supports employees when they need it the most.