Chief executives and business leaders are facing calls to “shatter the silence” around mental ill health in the workplace by openly discussing their own experiences with staff.
The Mental Health Foundation said that while progress was being made in other areas, a “major cultural shift” was needed in many workplaces. Writing in The Times today, it said that influential bosses could lead by example by speaking about their own mental health, and taking a greater interest in the personal welfare of their staff.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have spoken of their own emotional difficulties and called for an end to the taboo around the subject. They have been joined by celebrities such as Aaron Lennon, the English Premier League footballer, who was detained under the Mental Health Act and has subsequently encouraged others to talk about their problems.
However, although some leading business figures have openly discussed mental health, they remain relatively rare. António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, took weeks off suffering from stress and insomnia in 2011, and has said, “Leadership is a lonely thing”.
Toni Giugliano, of the foundation, said: “Our politicians are starting to make all the right noises and record funding is being put into services, but our workplaces are struggling to embrace that change.
“If we want to help people out of poverty and into work we need a cultural shift in our workplaces, alongside a more compassionate welfare system.”
SNP ministers have faced calls from their party’s youth wing to do more to promote good mental health by calling for a review of funding for services in further and higher education.
Chris Glendinning, of Young Scots for Independence, said: “Increasing demand has stretched services to the limit. Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities have longer waiting lists for counselling than any other university in the UK, whilst only a handful of Scotland’s colleges have dedicated full-time counselling staff.
“Reviewing funding would be a crucial first step towards ensuring that young people with mental ill health can access the support they need.”