Lovewell’s logic: Permission to speak

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

How open is your organisation’s culture when it comes to discussing employees’ mental health? Do staff feel able to speak freely about any issues they may be experiencing? Or do many still feel unable to do so for fear of repercussion?

Perhaps most importantly, even if the organisation believes it has created an open culture, is this reflected in employees’ perceptions? All too often, we hear of employers questioning why the initiatives they have put in place around mental health and resilience haven’t received higher take up among employees. With one in six employees experiencing mental health issues, low take up is unlikely to mean that such issues do not exist among a workforce.

Removing the taboos around talking about mental health in the workplace and creating a culture in which staff feel sufficiently supported to speak up about the issues they may be experiencing, therefore, is vital if employers are to realise their potential as a source of support for those who may be suffering.

This is one of the aims of Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day, which took place this week (Thursday 2 February). This aimed to give everyone the chance to talk and listen about mental health. Only by stimulating conversations and encouraging individuals to feel comfortable openly speaking about mental health issues will the remaining taboos begin to be broken down.

In the corporate world, there can be no denying there is still some way to go before this can be achieved in many organisations. According to research by Bupa, 46% say the culture at their organisation prevents them from talking about wellbeing issues, while 73% of respondents believe that their employers should be doing more to support staff who are struggling with physical or mental health.

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While change won’t happen overnight, getting the conversation started by effectively giving people permission to talk is a positive step in the right direction. After all, to quote the late Bob Hoskins in BT’s 90s ad campaign: “It’s good to talk.”

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell