More than 20 of Scotland’s largest businesses, representing tens of thousands of staff, have pledged to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace through a groundbreaking initiative which has been welcomed by the Scottish Government.
This Is Me Scotland is a joint initiative between PwC, Barclays, Business in the Community Scotland, SAMH and Samaritans Scotland. It aims to change perceptions of mental health by encouraging businesses to follow a set of guidelines which encourage discussion and support.
This Is Me Scotland will celebrate the scale of its impact on the business community since its launch in October 2018 at an event to be held tonight at the Scottish Parliament.
Along with the launch partners, Pinsent Mason, EY, Student Loans Company and Baillie Gifford are all on the This Is Me Scotland Steering Committee.
Since its launch, organisations including Standard Life Aberdeen, Edrington and Prudential have committed to This Is Me Scotland, a campaign to support business, and their people, to talk about mental health.
The event at the Scottish Parliament will see more than 150 guests gather to find out more about This Is Me Scotland.
In attendance will be Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey MSP and guests will hear Professor Rory O’Connor, the University of Glasgow’s Professor of Health Psychology and head of the Mental Health and Wellbeing group. He will be sharing his experience of collecting robust evidence on the causes of mental disorders and developing innovative treatment approaches for individuals, their families and the broader population.
Scottish Mental Health Minister, Clare Haughey, said:
“I welcome this action being taken by This is Me Scotland to reduce the stigma and discrimination which can be associated with mental health in the workplace.
“This complements our ongoing work with initiatives like See Me and NHS Health Scotland’s Healthy Working Lives programme.
“Across Scotland we are determined to ensure people can get the right help at the right time.”
Business in the Community’s Mental Health at Work Report 2018 found that in Scotland, employees are more likely than the overall UK workforce to have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition, at 36% compared with 32% for UK workforce.
Further research has found that many people feel scared and confused about confronting their mental health issue at work. Fewer than half (45%) of Scottish employees would feel confident telling their line manager about a mental health problem.
This is Me Scotland aims to change that by encouraging people with experience of a mental health problem, whether their own or of a loved one, to share their stories.
Philippe Guijarro, Responsible Business Leader for PwC in Scotland, and chairman of This Is Me Scotland, said:
“Since we launched This is Me Scotland there has been a groundswell of support for the initiative with a number of multinational organisations joining up. This only serves to illustrate the noticeable shift in attitudes among many businesses in how they approach mental health among their people.
“We are at a tipping point where there is an appetite for change and now is the time for businesses to stand up, collaborate and raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing. The work will not stop until discussing mental health issues will be no more of an issue than discussing a physical ailment.
“The parliamentary event, kindly hosted by Annie Wells MSP, gives us an opportunity to look at the success of This Is Me Scotland in its first six month, but more importantly it gives us the chance to discuss with politicians and business leaders just how crucial it is that anyone with a mental health condition is supported in their place of work.”
Judith Currie, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Barclays Scotland, said:
“Barclays have been working closely with PwC on the This is Me Scotland Campaign now for over a year and it has been really encouraging to see the uptake across organisations from varying industries and sectors.
“Mental health is a topic which impacts everyone and it is clear businesses are keen to do more in this space to fully support employee wellbeing.
“The parliament event provides an excellent platform to take the campaign to the next level, broaden engagement, gain further parliamentary support and truly ensure the campaign has a Scotland-wide focus. I look forward to another successful event and further growth of the campaign into the future.”
Alan Thornburrow, Scotland Director of Business in the Community, said:
“Our research, conducted in partnership with Mercer, shows there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, but we need to go further and faster.
“Collective and urgent action by employers, such as This is Me Scotland, is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing."
James Jopling, Executive Director of Samaritans Scotland, said:
“Employers have a crucial role to play in promoting positive mental health at work. Over the last five years, two thirds of people who died by suicide were in employment at the time of their death. That means hundreds of workplaces and co-workers were touched by the tragedy of suicide. It also means there is an opportunity to make work a more supportive factor in people’s lives by promoting wellbeing and encouraging people to ask for help, if they’re struggling.
“So it’s encouraging to see leading employers from Scotland’s financial industry making a meaningful and public commitment to promoting wellbeing at work through the This is Me campaign and encouraging businesses across Scotland to join them.”
Jo Anderson, Director of External Affairs at SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), said:
“At SAMH we know that talking is one of the first steps to better mental health. So we strongly support the work of This is Me Scotland in encouraging people to share their stories of mental health problems with their colleagues.
“Hearing first-hand about how others have dealt with mental health issues can be really effective in letting staff know that in their workplace, it is safe to speak up and ask for help. We welcome the organisations who have already signed up to This is Me, and we are looking forward to helping them to take action and start a potentially life-saving conversation today.”
This is Me Scotland – Changing the Mental Health narrative, sponsored by Annie Wells MSP, will be held within the Garden Lobby at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 8th May 2019 from 6-8pm.