It’s not time to talk about mental health. Yes, you did read that right!
It’s not time to talk about mental health, it’s time to talk about change. And by change I mean changing a culture. Now we see lots of initiatives that are being run such as ‘it’s time to talk’, which are encouraging organisations to get their workforce speaking out about mental health in the workplace.
But unless we’ve got a culture where people feel fundamentally safe to speak out, to feel that they can speak out without recrimination, without judgment, without fear of being treated differently then we’re never going to get people talking about mental health in the workplace.
So we need to take a step back and we need to look at our organisational culture and ask what needs to change to enable people to feel safe to talk about mental health.
One organisation that I’ve seen who have done this brilliantly is the Chief Exec of an organisation who himself had time out of the business with stress and anxiety. So he decided as part of the wellbeing strategy that they launched within the organisation to actually create a video. And he went on camera and he spoke to the workforce about his own struggles, about the fact that yes, he’d experienced some challenges with mental health.
The impact was phenomenal because what he was inadvertently doing was saying ‘you know, it’s okay, I’ve experienced this and I’m sure that you’ve experienced this‘.
And he found that people came to speak to him directly to say ‘you know, I have struggled with this‘. And as part of their wellbeing strategy, it had so much more gravitas because the employees of that organisation knew that it was coming from an authentic place.
“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”
– Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook