Mental Health Awareness Week starts today, 8 May. Gareth Parry, Remploy Chief Executive, discusses how to remove the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

The challenge of removing the stigma around mental health is one of the major issues facing the business community and wider society, in particular, today.

The figures are staggering:

  • One in six adults of working age is experiencing challenges with mental health at any one time.
  • Mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with more than 91 million days lost each year due to mental health problems.
  • The total cost to employers is estimated to be a massive £26 billion each year.
  • 41 per cent of employers have seen an increase in the reporting of mental health-related issues such as depression or anxiety, with increases generally higher in larger employers.
  • There have been some very welcome recent interventions in the mental health debate by the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry who have taken the decision to talk about their own personal issues.

Personal experience

Gareth Parry, Remploy Chief ExecutiveI have been open with colleagues at Remploy about my own mental health issues and have been heartened by the response I received. I knew a lot professionally about mental health, but I didn’t recognise it. Suddenly I was on the other side. It reinforced the importance of organisations like Remploy because work gave me routine, structure and focus when everything else in my life was in chaos.

Creating an open environment to discuss mental health issues allows employees, regardless of status, to focus more on doing their jobs, rather than constantly worrying about hiding their challenges in case they are ‘found out’.

What Remploy offer

At Remploy, we help people to overcome any difficulties they are experiencing at work due to stress, anxiety or depression so that they can remain a valuable asset to a business.

Workplace emotional wellbeing support, tailored to the needs of the individual, along with simple adjustments implemented by the employer can help individuals fulfil their role. We can help employers understand the support they could be offering to employees with anxiety, stress or depression and equally help the employee to identify successful coping strategies.

Allow others to thrive – break the stigma

My own experience of depression underlines the importance of senior staff advocating for and demystifying mental health. We have sports stars and celebrities talking about it, but not many business leaders. This is still a taboo we need to break.

Supporting more people to thrive at work

If you think you could benefit from support, then take a look at our training courses, specific to supporting individuals with their mental health: