Opinion

Mental Health Awareness Week – We need more than just words

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Josh Krichefski 900x380

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and Mental Health Awareness Month in the US. Both are moments to shine a light on the topic, share experiences, support and advice. And, as business leaders, initiatives like this give us the chance to reinforce the principles we should be living with our teams everyday. That it’s ok not to be ok. That we value and support everyone every day, even when those days are rough.

Modern businesses are not about “stiff upper lip” and stoicism. For our people to be happy, thrive and unleash their full talent, our businesses need to be empathetic, empowering and authentic places to be. The majority of people I speak to genuinely want to create these environments and they are determined to make it happen, and make it last.

But that isn’t a blanket view. As I speak to people working in different sectors and markets, it’s become clearer that while some businesses are doing great things and modernising their approach to make mental health discussions and support part of life, many aren’t doing enough, a few are posting or sharing thoughts about the topic because it’s fashionable but those words aren’t translating into action… worse, some aren’t doing anything at all.

This has to change and to do that, we must ensure public accountability. As I announced late last year, I’m calling for mandatory reporting of mental health data for businesses across the UK. The mission is to have mandatory reporting of mental health debated in parliament by the end of 2022 and we’re starting the lobbying process now.

I wanted to outline here our thoughts on how this would work. We don’t want this to be a broadcast from MediaCom. To get this right, we need your input. We want your take on both our idea and call for reporting, and also your views on mental health in the workplace and your experiences of that, whether you are a health expert, business leader or an employee.

HOW WE SUGGEST THIS COULD WORK

We believe that reporting would be achieved through a standardised, anonymised survey shared with all medium-large businesses (50+ employees) to distribute to their employees. Once we’re further into the lobbying process, this survey will be developed by a group of advisors from both the health and business communities, alongside the Government.

The survey would be completed annually and, as with the Gender Pay Gap reporting, each business is then responsible for uploading its data and summary of findings into a Government-run platform which is their searchable.

The platform has been set and tested with Gender Pay Gap reporting – what we are calling for is a utilisation of that in order to monitor progress around mental health in order to drive change and monitor progress – good and bad.

WHAT BUSINESSES WILL REPORT ON

Our current suggestion is that this survey covers three core areas:

  1. The mental health of the individual overall (for example how they are feeling overall, the mental health experience they have personally had over the last year in and outside of work)
  1. The impact of the workplace (how does their working life impact that individual’s mental health and overall happiness, what factors influence any negative or positive impact on mental health)
  1. The reaction to progress made (what efforts have they seen their business make, do they feel that business is doing enough, what initiatives are in place and what is missing)

We believe in the importance of simplicity here. Mental health is a complex subject. To monitor how well we, as a business community, are supporting it requires focus and direction.

This also isn’t witch-hunt. We believe that by putting in place a legislation that makes an organisation’s approach to mental health measurable, we can inspire change, drive momentum and add consistency across the business community.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

There are three stages to this lobbying process:

  1. Awareness – we will continue to raise awareness of the issue of mental health in business, and our manifesto and aim. This includes raising awareness in the media and within the business, health and government communities. This is the stage we are working in currently.
  1. Support – from late 2021, we will begin a full drive for support. We will ask those who have fed into our manifesto and believe in our goal to sign the manifesto and put their name to this in support of mandatory mental health reporting in business
  1. Launch – We will create a formal petition online which will allow those supporters to sign the manifesto formally. We will reach out formally to relevant MPs. Our goal is to have the possibility of mandatory reporting debated in Parliament by the end of 2022.

We believe this is the right way forward. I have personally been discussing the issue of mental health in business for many years and we’ve all seen progress made. But it’s not enough and we can and should do more. Reporting on mental health in business will allow us all to share ideas, prioritise the issue and see and monitor the change we’re making.

I’m sure people reading this will have views – please do share them either by messaging me directly, or commenting below. Whether you agree with our idea, or not, I want to hear those views!

Similarly, if you’re keen to be involved or just want to show your support for the manifesto and receive updates on our progress, please email biggerpicture@mediacom.com

#MakeMentalHealthMandatory

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