It’s World Mental Health Day today and this year’s theme is ‘mental health in the workplace’. With 1 in 4 of us experiencing a mental health condition in any year, it’s more widespread than perhaps people realise, yet it’s not a subject that’s really spoken about.
Earlier this year HMRC launched a Mental Health Network. It's a colleague-led initiative to set up local mental health groups around the department to tackle the stigma of talking openly about our mental health. And I’ve volunteered to be a Mental Health Advocate and set up a group in Telford.
The aim of our group is to help break down the taboo surrounding mental health and provide a safe and inclusive environment for HMRC colleagues to talk about their own experiences and help people find out more about the support HMRC can provide as an employer.
We’ve explored what we want from the group and how we can use it to support people who may be living with mental health issues as well as managers who want to find out more about how they can support staff. Areas we’re concentrating on are:
- building awareness and reducing stigma
- mental health wellness and signposting support for employees and managers who need it
- helping create an organisational culture that is open to talking about mental health issues
So far we’ve arranged for a senior manager to speak about her own mental health issues and share how, with the right support at work, she has progressed her career. And we’ve got more workshops and sessions planned on subjects including Building Resilience & Positive Strategies for Stress and Mental Illness at Work for Managers.
Feedback I’ve got from the group has been really positive with people saying how they’ve felt empowered to talk about and share things they haven’t felt comfortable to mention before. So even though the group is new it seems we’re already having a positive impact and helping in our own way to break down those barriers.