World Mental Health Day: Why it matters

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Picture a bustling office or a busy commuter train, and imagine it full of people.

Now imagine 1 in every 6 of those people standing to one side.

Would it surprise you to know that that’s the number of people in England who report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week?

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, is mental health in the workplace. It’s no wonder that mental health is a big issue for employers: the World Health Organisation says that depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, which is an astonishing statistic in anyone’s book.

And a recent survey carried out by Randstad on mental health in the construction industry revealed more than a third of workers had experienced a mental health issue in the last year and as many as a quarter were considering leaving the industry, citing high levels of stress and challenges of maintaining a healthy work life balance.

At LionHeart, we began offering free counselling a few years ago. Demand has grown ever since, until last year the service was accessed by almost a quarter of the people we supported.

We have also seen a rise in the number of people citing mental ill health, stress or anxiety as their main reason for requesting support. In the financial year 2016 to 2017, this was 12.5% of the people we helped - double the number of people than the previous year.

LionHeart counsellor Bernadette Antoniou said: “On the face of it, it looks like a huge jump, but what it probably means is that people are simply getting better at acknowledging they might need help and asking for it. We are in a very fortunate position to be able to offer fast access to counselling, without a waiting list. We hear time and again from our clients that they wish they’d picked up the phone sooner because it has really helped them to move forward: people really under-estimate the power of talking.”

We’re also making a difference through the work of our John O’Halloran Initiative. The project takes its name from a retired company MD, father and grandfather who tragically took his own life in 2015, much to the shock of his former colleagues and friends who had no idea he had waged a long, secret battle with severe depression.

In May we ran three annual John O’Halloran symposium events in May to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing in the property industry. We’re also delivering a range of mental health and wellbeing workshops for RICS professionals around the UK, and supporting firms to sign up to the national Time to Change pledge, to demonstrate a commitment to ending the stigma attached to mental health issues.

We’re also growing our mental health ambassadors programme, with property professionals who have first-hand experience of mental ill health signing up to help us raise awareness and start workplace conversations.

Find out more:

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