It’s time to end the workplace taboo around mental health
By António Horta-Osório, Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group (published in The Guardian)
“I have made mental health a big focus for my company as a result of my personal experience. It is clear to me that the most important change needed is one of mindset. We must move to a way of thinking that recognises that we all have mental health just as we all have physical health. As with our physical health, all of us can experience periods of mental ill health when immediate treatment is needed, or we run the risk of developing long-term conditions that will need continuing support.
When an employee breaks a leg or suffers an infection, we know how to respond. Mental health should be dealt with in the same way. With a culture of adequate support and sufficient time off, an employee can return to work with confidence and without embarrassment.
This is the mindset we are adopting and embedding at Lloyds. The action we have taken in recent years has been based on talking to our colleagues. We have learned lessons along the way, which I believe can be adopted by any employer, of any size.
We share our personal experiences, and our culture is one of mutual support. During 2016 and 2017, we published stories on our intra-group website of colleagues who have experienced poor mental health. These were often deeply personal, like that of P, one of our managers, who experienced crippling anxiety to the extent that his performance at work, and his relationship with colleagues, friends and family, was impacted.
He felt he had nowhere to turn. P felt that speaking up at work would be detrimental to the perception of his performance – and so he said nothing to colleagues and continued to lose confidence in himself. But after taking part in a disability-focused development programme offered by Lloyds, P eventually felt able to share how he was feeling with his line manager, and together they worked on a recovery plan. They discussed workloads and pressure points, and met regularly to keep on top of things.
P also used our employee assistance programme helpline, to provide him with advice on coping with anxiety, mindfulness and dealing with self-control. With the help of professionals, and the knowledge that he is fully supported by his manager and his team, P is now genuinely excelling in his role. His story inspired many others to share their experience on the group site. This has created a positive culture within the group to inspire open conversations about mental health. Of course, P wasn’t on his own, but his honesty allowed many other colleagues to share their own problems, which of course is the first step to rectifying them.”
#EndTheStigma #StopTheStigma #BrainHealth #BeHereTomorrow