Over the course of the last 12 months this newspaper has banged the drum for a change in attitudes towards mental health and wellbeing.
We have been just one voice among many in campaigning for such a shift, and there is no doubt that perceptions have altered on this important topic. High-profile individuals, from Royals to leading chief executives, have helped to make progress in normalising an issue that for too long was confined to the shadows. Mental health conditions span a vast spectrum, including stress, anxiety or bouts of depression as well as more serious, complex and debilitating conditions.
Of course, for the sufferer any experience of mental ill-health can be draining and damaging. This is especially so if one suffers in silence. There is also a particular problem in the City, where a competitive, fast-paced environment can exacerbate underlying issues or bring about their onset.
Fortunately, more and more individuals and institutions are stepping up and playing a leading role in providing support to employees, changing policy and yes – changing attitudes. Today marks the start of this year's Mental Health Awareness week, and once again the City is really stepping up to the plate.
Andrew Parmley, the newish Lord Mayor, is working with PwC to promote the City's This Is Me campaign which aims to promote conversations about mental health, especially at work. Over 150 City firms have pledged to participate and thousands of people from law, banking, insurance, asset management and consultancies will wear a green ribbon to show their support.
Buildings including the Bank of England and One Canada Square will be lit up in green throughout this week. It is, as ever, an important initiative. The latest study by PwC shows that 40 per cent of employees would still not feel comfortable raising a mental health issue with a colleague or manager.
Slowly but surely, this figure will reduce. In time, we ought to abandon the word “stigma” when discussing mental health. It's well-intentioned, but constant talk of “ending the stigma” actually reinforces the idea that there is an element of shame attached to the issue. The more that City leaders and businesses work to demystify and normalise the topic, the better the City will be.