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Lord Mayor's mental health initiative

10 January 2018
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With over 260 organisations registered since its inception in 2016, This is Me – in the City is a Lord Mayor’s Appeal initiative to get organisations and their employees talking about mental health in partnership with the architects of the campaign, Barclays, plus Business Healthy, City Mental Health Alliance, Mind and media partner City A.M. The pioneering, City-wide mental health campaign aims to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace by dispelling the myths and raising awareness of wellbeing.

One in four people experience a mental health problem in any given year, yet many people feel scared and confused about confronting the issue at work. Only 51 per cent of employees would feel confident telling their line manager about a mental health problem, but mental health problems can affect a person’s performance at work as much as physical ill health – often, even more so – and this can be very costly to employers. The data shows us that 28 per cent of employees are regularly working sick (presenteeism), so ending the stigma around mental health is not only the right thing to do, but a critical business issue. Michael Cole-Fontayn, Executive Vice President and Chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa at BNY Mellon, points out that 'we employ people for their minds so we must look after their minds.'

Attitudes, knowledge and behaviour towards people with mental health problems are more likely to improve if people are given the opportunity to learn from someone who has personal experience of mental illness. This is Me encourages employees who have experienced mental health problems, either personally or through supporting a loved one, to share their stories with colleagues via a video message or other medium.

The team at the Lord Mayor’s Appeal are here to support you along the way, understanding that organisations are at different stages when it comes to opening the conversation around mental health. A comprehensive guide to running the campaign internally from both an employer’s and an employee’s perspective is provided, along with contact details for further assistance. If you would like a copy of this guide, please register your interest.

Fostering an inclusive workplace starts with raising awareness. To complement storytelling through This is Me, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal launched The Green Ribbon Campaign in Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, inviting 70,000 people from 160 different organisations across the capital to wear a green ribbon with the simple but powerful message ‘Together we can #endthestigma’. More green ribbons, including a new pin badge, will be available for Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 (14 – 20 May) and can be ordered here.

It can intimidating to share your story, but individuals from 70 organisations have already done so. Through anecdotal evidence, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal know that organisations are noticing the impact of This is Me, whether it is the reduction in long term sickness, an increase in the number of employees returning to their roles, an increase in employees reaching out to their employee assistance programmes, or the increase in conversations about mental health in the workplace. Katherine Conway, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Aon, stated that 'the campaign has had an amazing impact at Aon, with the video having the most views of any campaign video. The reaction from colleagues was universally positive and so supportive.'

This is Me is growing year on year, and 2018 sees the introduction of an e-learn tool in partnership with Samaritans. Through the partnership, Samaritans and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal will deliver an online wellbeing programme which will give employees the skills they need to manage their own emotional health, as well as being able to support those around them well before those feelings reach crisis point, creating a workforce that is bolder and more confident in listening, communicating and knowing how to support themselves and one another.

We're frequently told to check our bodies for signs of illness, and we should pay similarly close attention to our mental health. Richard Martin, Director at Byrne Dean and a member of the This is Me steering group, values mental and physical health equally and encourages you to do the same, with This is Me as your starting point. The Lord Mayor’s Appeal would love to have your organisation on board - for more information, please visit their website.

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