Shaun Davis: What is the role of employers in removing the stigma around mental health?

Mental wellbeing is an issue that touches us all, directly or indirectly through friends, family and colleagues, regardless of what we do or who we are.

In my view, we all have a key role to play in removing the stigma associated with mental health, be that at work or in our personal lives.

While we are becoming more open about mental health as a society and topics that were previously considered taboo are talked about freely by high-profile figures, such as royalty and celebrities, there is still much more to be done and employers can play a key role here. Too often, people still feel that being open about mental health is career-limiting; employers still have work to do to counter the idea that there is nothing we can do to break down the stigma around mental health. There is, and it starts with each and every one of us.

Getting more businesses to show transparency around mental health support for their staff and encouraging leaders to be open about their own mental health challenges is going to require a boldness and confidence to do things differently, but it is the right thing to do. And in doing so it will help to erode the stigma associated with mental health.

The best line managers are those that bring good people on and prioritise the simple things that promote positive mental health, such as giving people constructive feedback one on one, encouraging people with positive praise, and raising their aspirations. Line managers sharing their own personal stories and experiences of mental health so that a culture of openness and support can be created and maintained is another way of removing the stigma and humanising the conversations.

In an ideal world everybody would be able to talk openly about their own mental health without fear of recrimination, and creating a culture where mental health is discussed openly is the first step.

Dr Shaun Davis is global director of safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability at Royal Mail Group