Last week we hosted our first ever Mental Health event. We partnered with our Client Weber Shandwick who kindly invited us to use their offices. The Mental Health event focused specifically on Finance Professionals and it was a great success! Thoughts, ideas and eye opening statistics were discussed and shared during the evening. We were lucky to have award winning finance professional and Non Exec of the Mental Health Foundation; Jonny Jacobs as our guest speaker. He is currently the FD at M&S and sits on the Advisory Board for ‘Mad World’ which specialise in solution – focused events for mental health within the workplace.
The talk began with Jonny sharing his story, how he struggled to fit in at school having had quite a tough childhood and feeling like he was living on his own from the age of 14. Looking back on this now, he was surprised by the lack of support from people around him. He can’t recall many times anyone asking, “Are you okay?” or “How are you Doing?”. Thinking about this later in life has lead him to believe that communication is a game changer when it comes to mental health. Jonny has now worked for some fantastic companies, bringing his passion of mental health into the structure of those businesses. At ‘Pladis’, he and his team created a fully integrated mental health initiative. Jonny believes that having the senior team on board with a Mental Health program is imperative to the success of the schemes.
More than £40 Billion is lost per year due to mental ill health
Surprisingly, this is not just due to people calling in sick, but more so when employees turn up at work when they are not in the best frame of mind, leading to lower productivity.
Around 70% of finance professionals feel their mental health is negatively affected by work. Yet, people perform at their best and drive business performance in a positive mental health environment
So… How do we change this?
We need to talk!
Talking is so important. In Jonny’s experience, he has found that when senior staff members talk about their issues or mental fitness, this normalises the taboo of ‘Mental Health’ and encourages people to share. Just by verbalising their perspective on mental fitness, this can dramatically improve the environment we all work in. You can also then understand what someone might need and how to support them, whether it’s through medical help or counselling etc.
We must see employees as assets
We always look after our assets, so therefore we should the same for our employees. It goes without saying that a positive Mental Health will lead to increased productivity.
We cannot see Mental Health as a ‘Checklist Activity’
Most companies now have schemes in place but everyone needs to truly believe in it for it to be effective.
The Good News….
Companies and brands are now much more aware of the importance of mental health. There are many initiatives and campaigns to encourage talking and every little helps!
McVities ‘Lets Talk’ promotion and the Cadburys ‘Loneliness’ Campaign are just a couple of examples.
The main take away from the talk was for employers to create a safe environment where employees feel happy and comfortable to speak openly about their mental health and feel they will receive the support and understanding needed. To do this we need to start from the top and in theory set the tone for the company and employees.
Most of all, employees, especially senior employees need to really believe and get on board with initiatives.
Ideas, Big and Small
- Having ‘walking meetings’ which means popping out to grab a coffee and having a chat away from your desk this can change the whole perspective of the conversation.
- Having more conversations about both work and personal lives
- Rolling out initiatives that work for your business. Signing pledges, having Mental Health Ambassadors, training for all colleagues, benefits such as counselling or gym memberships etc are all great ideas.
To everyone who came and participated in the discussion
To Weber Shandwick for providing your office space
To Camden Town Brewery for providing our beverages for the evening
And a massive thanks to Jonny Jacobs