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What’s next for mental health?

Liz Ashford

A poignant moment in time for me was earlier on in my career, when for a number of reasons, I didn’t have the right work life balance, and found myself quite overwhelmed.  Contributor Liz Ashford, HR Director – TSB.

I did what many of us do and tried to hide it and carry on regardless of how I was feeling.  In the end, I became quite poorly and wasn’t my best at home or work.  I was lucky at the time to have a great GP, support at home, and good colleagues, who really helped me.  It was then that I knew how important it is to tackle mental health issues head on; in home life, workplace or wherever it may be.  Now, I’m more careful about the role work plays in my life – it’s still important but not everything.  

No one else will deny that mental health illness is a problem we can’t ignore.  Our sector is awash with research revealing alarming figures about how too many people will experience mental illness including stress, anxiety or depression at some point in their lives.  You only have to look at the statistic, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, to comprehend the severity of the situation.  And, the Time to Change Pledge that supports organisations promotes a positive mental wellbeing now has over 1,200 signatories, including TSB. 

This is all a step in the right direction, but, addressing mental health issues will require us to build on such raising public awareness initiatives. 

So, what are we going to do to keep up the momentum and move the conversation on?  I believe as individuals we need to take more action to look after our own mental health and wellbeing.  

Everyone has a role to play in improving our understanding of how to look out for signs and symptoms of mental health issues in others and how to show support, but the step change has to originate from within.  Therefore, with World Mental Health Day upon us, there has never been a better time for TSB to partner with Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters campaign that looks to do exactly that.

It’s not rocket science to recognise that the work environment can bring about mental health problems.  Work-related stress can trigger symptoms or make their effects worse.  And, through this partnership our employees (known as Partners) will have access to a new online triage tool.  Every Mind Matters shows people the simple steps they can take to be better prepared for life’s ups and downs.  The new resource, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP), will enable people to create a personalised action plan recommending a simple set of self-care actions to deal with stress, boost mood, improve sleep and feel more in control. 

Two months into my new role at TSB, I’ve never felt more fervent about tackling the stigma around mental health, quite simply it’s the right thing to do and the success of any business relies on it.  Our ambition is to empower Partners, equip line managers and support senior leaders to champion a healthy and positive working environment.  Improving the mental wellbeing of employees can improve thinking, decision-making, productivity and relationships with others.  When you are physically fit, you tend to be healthier.  The exact same approach applies to mental health.  Talking about how you are feeling and being open with the people that care about you is an essential part of ensuring we all stay healthy.  I’ll certainly be sitting down to the online resource and carrying out my very own mental health check.

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