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Mental Health – Let’s talk about it

Last week I attended Legal & General’s inaugural mental health forum at Twickenham Stadium. The insurer has been running a campaign since May entitled ‘Not a Red Card’, which aims to tackle the stigma associated with discussing mental health issues in the workplace.

By using sport and physical health as key themes, the company is encouraging both employers and employees to approach mental health issues as ‘a team’, so that no one feels like they need to struggle alone. The event was chaired by sports presenter Gabby Logan and featured talks from the world of business and sport including Olympic Gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh and journalist Alistair Campbell.

Listening to the speakers was really inspiring and I was especially excited about meeting Alistair Campbell, who I have admired for a long time. He spoke about the time when, during his interview, he told Tony Blair that he had suffered from a breakdown. He said that Tony’s reply was simply: “If it doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t bother me.” A great attitude, not just from a potential PM, but also an employer.

2017 will be remembered for many things, some good and some bad, but it will definitely be remembered fondly for the focus it has given to mental health. This was the year that the Royals first started to talk about mental health, and also when the PM Theresa May ordered the ‘Thriving in Work’ report, which looks at what employers are doing to address the mental health needs of their staff. The report found that 300,000 people with a long-term health problem lose their jobs every year, which is 50% higher than those with physical health conditions.

For me, mental health has always been personal and it has been a privilege to work on the campaign with Legal & General this year. Having more and more business leaders, journalists and celebrities shining a spotlight on mental health will help break the taboo and encourage conversations to take place in offices up and down the country.

The following organisations offer free and confidential support over the phone:

Samaritans – 116 123. Round the clock support, every day of the year
Mind – 0300 123 3393, 9am – 6pm, Mon – Fri (except Bank Holidays). Advises on a range of mental health issues
Young Minds – 0808 802 5544, 9.30am – 4pm, Mon – Fri. Supports parents and carers worried about a child’s welfare
The Mix – 0808 808 4994, 2pm – 11pm, Mon – Sun. Helpline for people under the age of 25