The Elephant in the room: Mental health & business

I have just been asked to help draft a communication to a whole bunch of ‘C’ suite business leaders, and leading influencers about an event being organised by two Global professional services firms. The event will focus on mental health and business – in normal language stress and depression in the workplace. It is estimated to cost UK employers £25 billion a year, its the number one reason for folk to take time off work and 25% of people will suffer from it at some stage.

Having endured obvious and seemingly endless demonstrations of just how distorted values and behaviour in the City have become, it is refreshing to come across such an initiative in these times, and organised by such high profile brands. And for the record, of course its not everyone in the City, but I don’t buy the “one isolated bad apple” argument. Look at G4S – sure, it gets led from the top, but there are a host of other folk who must have known something was rotten, but choose not to speak up. And you can bet that stress, bullying and depression will be sitting around in spades.

The toxicity around this subject is insidious and easily underestimated, to a point where for most organisations it is an unspoken “no go” area, given token attention but not addressed with any degree of genuine rigour. Working as we do in the world of communication, the need to “perform” when you may not necessarily feel like it, goes with the territory in some situations – an interview, a pitch, an important client meeting. And as a leader, your ability to inspire your people and your customers should be pre-requisite. However, none of the above is an excuse for ignoring, not acknowledging and not dealing with the almost inevitable consequences of excessive pressure in the workplace.

So I take my hat off to x and y, who’s name I shall be happy to reveal, when they’ve sent out their invitation, and perhaps be able to give you a flavour of how it went.

For the record, I have definitely suffered the consequences of stress and pressure at times, leading to disturbed sleeping patterns, an inability to keep things in perspective, irritation and mild depression, usually in the morning for some reason.

Keep well, and if you’re struggling, don’t bury it. Find the right person to talk to.

 

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