‘Busi­ness must of­fer men­tal health sup­port’

Com­pa­nies urged to pro­vide clear frame­work for staff

Yorkshire Post - Business - - NEWS - Mark Casci BUSI­NESS EDITOR @MarkCasci

Em­ploy­ers must en­sure that they have ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels in place to en­sure that staff suf­fer­ing from men­tal health prob­lems have the sup­port they need, it has been claimed.

Busi­ness lead­ers from around the re­gion heard how man­agers in par­tic­u­lar must be aware of what struc­tures are avail­able to staff and not try to solve or di­ag­nose prob­lems them­selves.

The claim was made at a round­table event or­gan­ised by Bar­clays

The York­shire Post and and comes on the eve of World Men­tal Health Day.

At­tended by some of the re­gion’s lead­ing busi­ness and char­ity bosses, the event heard how at­ti­tudes in the work­place were chang­ing rapidly on the is­sue but that there was still much work to be done.

Rosana Rategh, from the Leeds Mind char­ity, has spent sev­eral years work­ing with peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues and said that staff hav­ing the con­fi­dence to seek help of­ten de­pended on the avail­abil­ity of what is on of­fer sup­port­wise.

“There is def­i­nitely some­thing about ad­mit­ting it but then wor­ry­ing what the sup­port is go­ing to be like,” said Ms Rategh.

“So if I ad­mit that I am suf­fer­ing from men­tal health prob­lems, am I go­ing to be sup­ported?

“Some of the things we find is that man­agers strug­gle with prac­ti­cal­i­ties. As a man­ager, if some­one says they have de­pres­sion, what do they do? What are the pro­ce­dures?”

Deb­bie Mul­lan, head of cor­po­rate bank­ing at Bar­clays, agreed, say­ing: “As a man­ager of peo­ple, if some­one does have these is­sues, your first thoughts will be am I here to di­ag­nose or solve the prob­lem, be­cause for you as a leader that is your nat­u­ral re­sponse – to solve a prob­lem.

“You need to learn that you are not there to solve the prob­lem, you can reach out to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and talk about the tools you have in place to help.”

All at­ten­dees agreed that greater pre­pon­der­ance of peo­ple speak­ing out on their own men­tal health is­sues had played a mas­sive role in in­flu­enc­ing the culture around the con­di­tion.

Vir­gin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gad­hia and Lloyds chief ex­ec­u­tive An­tónio Horta-Osório are among high-level ex­ec­u­tives who have opened up about men­tal health but the need for more open­ness on the mat­ter is vi­tal, it was agreed.

Kate Hainsworth, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Leeds Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, said: “Our ex­pe­ri­ence is that peo­ple are a lot more likely to speak out.

“Younger peo­ple, mil­len­ni­als, are much more pre­pared to talk about how they feel and to de­mand the re­spect to be lis­tened to.”

One im­por­tant step peo­ple agreed was hav­ing Men­tal Health First Aiders in each work­place. Jodie Hill, who founded and runs the law firm Thrive, is cur­rently cam­paign­ing to have the law in this area changed.

She said: “You do find that peo­ple will of­ten not talk about it if they do not have that open en­vi­ron­ment. If you have that buy in from the top level then you are more likely to have peo­ple who will open up.

“There are peo­ple at board level who have suf­fered but who dare not say any­thing be­cause they still have that stigma and neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions about weak­ness when it comes to men­tal health.” Mr Rategh said that a huge step for­ward in terms of preven­tion came from ed­u­cat­ing younger peo­ple more ef­fec­tively on the sub­ject.

“If we ed­u­cate young peo­ple then they grow up with that knowl­edge and take it into the work­place but they also have the knowl­edge to sup­port them­selves,” she said.

“At the mo­ment for want of a bet­ter ex­pres­sion we are in a re­ac­tionary cri­sis mode when it comes to men­tal health, both in the work­place and in so­ci­ety.

“Wouldn’t it be bet­ter if we moved to preven­tion?”

Younger peo­ple are more pre­pared to talk about how they feel.

PIC­TURES: TONY JOHN­SON

THE BIG IS­SUES:Rosana Rategh, above right, has spent years work­ing with peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues. In­set, Jodie Hill, of law firm Thrive.

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