UK PM throws down mental health challenge

Apr 04, 2016

David Cameron met with business leaders earlier this year in an attempt to shift the conversation around mental health and make supportive workplaces the norm in Britain.

"We’ve not done enough to end the stigma of mental health," Cameron told the BBC in February. "We focused a lot on physical health, and we haven’t, as a country, as a nation, focused enough on mental health."

His comments followed recommendations by an independent taskforce, which set out plans to focus on early intervention for millions of Britons currently experiencing anxiety and depression.

Crucially, the taskforce recognised clear links between employment and good mental health, and the need for people to have to access treatment early so they can stay in the workforce and avoid long-term unemployment. 

As the Prime Minister pointed out, stigma often prevents employees experiencing depression or anxiety from speaking up and getting the support they need. Breaking down these barriers and creating an environment where everyone feels ok about saying they’re not ok means people are much more likely to access help early. An open door policy also gives workplaces an opportunity to check in with employees and tackle any issues that are causing stress.

"It takes a great deal of courageous leadership to stop the 'everyday work routine' long enough to ask these questions," Janice Marturano, executive director of the US-based Institute for Mindful Leadership, said in this Huffington Post article. And given the lost productivity, compensation claims and personal cost brought about by untreated anxiety and depression in the workplace, it pays to be brave – and to listen closely to the answers.

Keen to take action but not sure which questions to ask?

  • Check out our Getting started kit for resources, templates and talking points to help you take the first step towards a mentally healthy workplace.
  • Are they ok? Learn more about having a conversation with someone who might be struggling.
  • If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, the decision whether to tell your employer or other colleagues is a personal one. If you’re having a hard time weighing up the issues, our pros and cons tool can help. And if you do decide to discuss things with your manager, our conversation planner can help you figure out what to say.

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron

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