In partnership with The National Gallery, Beyond Words and Rethink Mental Illness, this year’s festival was held in London over two days, with over 100 different sessions to attend.
To open the festival, a panel of experts, including Bupa UK’s Medical Director Paula Franklin, came together to share their passion and expertise, and discuss the subject of mental health. Here we share their advice for employers, when it comes to looking after mental health in the workplace.
The panelists were:
Mark Malcomson CBE, CEO, City Lit (Chair)
Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Dr Paula Franklin, Medical Director, Bupa UK
Craig Donaldson, CEO, Metro Bank
Paola Barbarino, CEO, Alzheimers Disease International
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind
John Binns, former Deloitte Partner
Dr Ian Drever, Consultant Psychiatrist, Drever Associates
Here’s what they had to say:
Have open conversations
Openness around mental health has come a long way in recent years and we’re more open to talking about it than ever before. But there’s still work to be done, so it’s important to keep that conversation going. By encouraging people to talk about mental health in the workplace, you can help shape the culture, attitudes and behaviours towards mental health in your organisation. And by removing the stigma surrounding mental health, you can help your employees to feel comfortable enough to approach you should they need to talk. So don’t be afraid to have those open and honest conversations.
Find out more on talking about mental health
Lead by example
Some people might be afraid to speak up about their mental health problems in fear that it may be seen as a sign of weakness or failure. As an employer, line manager, team leader or colleague, you can set an example for those around you. By colleagues in higher positions sharing their own experiences of mental health, you let others down the line know that it’s OK to be human. By showing that you understand, you may make it easier for them to ask for help and give them the courage to speak up.
Many of us will have been affected by mental health in some way throughout our lives. Whether it’s a personal experience or someone you know who has been affected. So it’s something we can all relate to. From relationships to families, pressures at work to worries at home – we all have good and bad days, successes and failures in life. So if someone at work is struggling, try to put yourself in their shoes. If you and others adopt this approach, you’ll build an empathetic culture and a sense of community. Your colleagues will know they’re part of an organisation that cares about their wellbeing – no matter what challenges life might throw at them.
Invest in training and education
Early intervention can play an important role in helping someone with a mental health problem in their recovery. So by teaching managers how to spot the signs of mental health problems and how they can help, you can help your employees to get the help they need as soon as possible. Two out of every five line managers now receive training for mental health problems. So take the time to invest in training and education for your employees.
Find out more about spotting the signs of poor mental health
Supporting your employees with their mental health doesn’t just mean during the bad times. The term mental health includes both the good and the bad, so support should be ongoing. Think about how you can support your people to be at the top of their game. Letting your employees know what’s available to them, both inside and outside of work, is important.
If someone in your organisation is struggling with their mental health, you may need to make some adjustments for them. Perhaps you need to make some changes to their environment or working hours, ensure they take time off, or facilitate their return to work to help them recover.
Find out more about supporting employees
Would you like to know more about how to promote and support good mental health in the workplace? Visit our online information for practical tips and advice for line managers to help support employees with mental health problems.