Accountancy firm Deloitte made nine of its senior partners mental health champions as part of efforts to increase openness about mental health among staff.
Employees experiencing mental health problems can talk confidentially outside of internal line management structures to trained mental health champions, who can provide reassurance and support while pointing them in the direction of existing services and benefits. Employees concerned about a member of their team can also obtain support.
John Binns, a partner at Deloitte, worked with charity Mind to set up the mental health champions network about 18 months ago after he suffered a bout of depression in 2007. “In terms of the individual, it is giving them a message that, actually, they are not the only one,” he says. “They probably think they are at the time, but there are quite a few other people and their career is not over.”
Binns says Deloitte was very supportive over his depression. “I was treated much better than I expected and was given a message I was very valuable to the firm, and what it wanted from me was not to get straight back to being exactly as I was, but it would like me fixed and up and running, however long it was going to take. That reassurance meant I was back being productive much quicker than I otherwise would have been.”
However, Binns felt that more could have been done to create an open culture at the firm. “The return-to-work experience was excellent but would have been better if there had been a culture at Deloitte where people were more prepared and I was prepared to talk about what was happening to me and recognise it before it got to a crisis point,” he says. “It got to a point where I could not come in, fell off the edge and had two months off work.”
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