It is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year there has been a large focus on mental health in the workplace. New research from the Institute of Directors has revealed that business leaders have seen a rise in mental health concerns from staff in the last 14 months.

Mental health concerns are particularly prevalent in the finance industry. In fact, the finance industry has the third-highest level of mental health self-reporting of any sector. This may not come as much of a surprise; it is a fast paced industry with long working hours and can often be quite stressful, all of which have an impact on mental health.

One of the reasons mental health is such an issue in the workplace is the stigma around talking about mental health and wellbeing with co-workers and leaders. To help tackle this stigma the Lord Mayor launched a green ribbon campaign which encourages people to wear green ribbons to show solidarity and to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. The campaign is supported by Bank of England governor Mark Carney and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

To raise awareness for this campaign, called ‘This is Me’, a number of buildings in the city will light up green. These include the Bank of England, J.P Morgan’s Canary Wharf office, PwC’s Embankment office and Fidelity International’s Cannon Street office.

Mark Carney said: “Lighting the Bank of England green and wearing green ribbons during mental health awareness week says to colleagues: ‘it’s ok…we know the issue exists and we stand with you.’ Others may wonder why their building is glowing a funny shade of neon and get on Google or ask someone. Good. Suddenly, mental health is on their radar and they’re having an open conversation about it.”

This is Me is also involved in other campaigns to improve mental health in the City. In April 2018, PwC trialled two online programmes created by Samaritans called ‘Samaritans Active Listening Skills’ and ‘Samaritans Wellbeing Toolkit’. Each programme takes less than an hour to complete and are in sections of ten minutes. You can find out more about the Samaritans Wellbeing Toolkit here.

The City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) is a coalition of organisations founded by City businesses and is supported by Mental Health First Aid England and Mind. It is business-led and aims to create a culture of good mental health in the City and to ensure that people in the City are able to talk about mental health without fear of stigma. You can read more about the CMHA on their website.

How to cope with stress at work

Stress and work often go hand in hand, but there are some things that you can do to help cope with stress in the workplace:

  • Recognise the signs of stress and the causes
  • Work out what you find stressful in the workplace
    • Working out what you find stressful and what you find helpful will allow you to discuss potential changes with your employer
  • Try different coping techniques
    • There are many different techniques to cope with stress and everyone is different. Find out what works for you and try it next time you are feeling stressed.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
    • When stressed it can be far too tempting to cope by drinking alcohol or smoking, but this can often make your mental health worse. Instead, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly (even if it’s just taking a brisk walk at lunchtime!) and try and get plenty of sleep.

You can read more tips on how to cope with stress in the workplace on Mind.org.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, either in the workplace or otherwise, the CMHA have provided a host of help and advice lines on their website.

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