Tackling mental health
A successful week in aid of mental health awareness has highlighted the work needing to be done by schools, businesses and wider society
Mental health is a growing concern for businesses, individuals and wider society as the scale of the problem – and its associated costs – become better understood.
One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, according to the World Health Organisation. It categorises mental disorders as “among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.” 1
With a rise in mental health pressures comes a need for greater services and support. Efforts are underway in schools, universities and the workplace to build support networks and offer treatment and help.
Awareness is growing. The Mental Health Foundation’s “health awareness week” last month attracted record support, including 155,298 public posts* for #breakthestigma on Instagram. The green ribbon pin, a symbol for mental health awareness, was worn by people all over the UK and is increasingly familiar.
But the statistics are sobering. The Shaw Mind Foundation, a charity focused on the prevention of suicide, estimates that there are 16 suicides in the UK each day – around 6,000 per year2. Many involved younger people where the number of cases appear to be on the rise.”
The number of suicides among full-time students in England and Wales has also jumped – from 75 in 2007 to 134 in 2015 3.
Engaging with MPs, the NHS and school counsellors through various initiatives, the Shaw Mind Foundation hopes to help children, as young as primary school age, develop psychological resilience. The aim is to achieve early intervention as mental health problems emerge.
Such is the support for Shaw Mind’s work that it garnered more than 100,000 signatures in a petition demanding compulsory mental health education. It thus became the first charity to force a Parliamentary debate on the topic of mental health, which took place in November 2017, and led to the Government declaring that it wanted “mental health to be an everyday concern in all institutions”.
James Espey, Global Strategy Director, trustee and founder of the Shaw Mind Foundation believes that businesses – and bosses – need to be sympathetic to employees and their families. "You have health and safety rules and guidelines which are observed in businesses, but these relate to building safety.
A different culture is needed. You need to have an empathetic boss, who will understand that if you have a sick child that will become a priority for you.”
Like other major businesses, Cazenove Capital, and the wider Schroders Group, is investing in initiatives to support staff and improve mental health.
An internal mental health group called Schroders Minds, exists to aid employees who might be affected by mental health in any way.
We have over 20 qualified mental health first trainers at Schroders and have recently announced internally that these employees will be remunerated each month in the same way that first aiders are remunerated. This is to show that we recognise this as a formal role and that we take mental health as seriously as physical health.
Our Mental Health First Aiders are a point of contact if our employees are experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. They are not therapists or psychiatrists but they can give employees initial support and signpost them to appropriate help if required.
“By focusing on education and prevention, we aim to reduce the risk of future health problems developing and encouraging healthier life choices.” Charlie Frost, Benefits and Wellbeing Manager, Schroders.
“We’ll continue to seek out new and innovative ways to further develop our aim of ensuring our employees are healthy, happy and secure.”
1 World health report - A product of NMH Communications. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2001.
* As at 31st May 2018