Lord Dennis Stevenson, CE of Mind, and Paul Farmer, chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, have written an independent mental health review which says 300,000 people lose their jobs over mental health every year.
300,000? Three HUNDRED THOUSAND?! This is the second biggest reason for workplace sickness. Wow. And yet…why does it surprise me?
From a personal standpoint, this issue has affected every stage of my life and career. College, where I was paralysed for about six months, doing nothing but reading books (that were nothing to do with my A-Level subjects) and rearranging my room. The deputy head was a saviour there, but they had no particular path to help available.
Two jobs, both of which I had to leave because I simply couldn’t do the work any more. One job was a major factor in my depression; the other team couldn’t have been more lovely and supportive. And the latter part of my PhD, where I had more than the usual amount of ‘I am never, ever going to get this done’ (the institution were great about it, and I did get there!).
It’s taken so, so long for me to be diagnosed, deal with and manage depression. Even knowing it isn’t just ‘a bit of a bad time’ or ‘moodiness’, and that it is a chronic condition. (Chronic just makes me think of Snoop Dogg and his blunts…I prefer ‘longtime’.)
Theresa May said: “It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical wellbeing.” Yes. Just yes. Which is why I ain’t gonna hide it from anyone I work with again. (Difficult anyway, if I blog about it!) Sometimes I’m not very well, and I need to do whatever I need to do to feel better again. Simple enough…but often not.
So the review has lots of good and positive steps, though we’ll see how they will translate into real action in real organisations, where managers are already stretched and maybe don’t have the capabilities to come up with a mental health plan. And it has to happen in smaller businesses too – they need support in order to be able to help employees.
Applause for the review, and of course for the Royals and other notables who are getting involved, and also the people like the ones on the Sky page, putting their experiences out there. On video. I ain’t brave enough for that!