Eradicating the City's mental health stigma

​Susan Bright
The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince Harry Spearhead A New Campaign Called Heads Together To End Stigma Around Mental Health.
The royals spearheaded a campaign to end the stigma around mental illness (Source: Getty)

Concerns about relationships and finances can have a huge impact on our performance at work. It’s therefore crucial that businesses look to support employees with their entire life.

As a law firm partner for many years, I have always been interested in optimising team performance. But it was only when I took over as managing partner of our business in the UK and Africa that I recognised the extent to which our health, both physical and mental, needs to be treated as a core business issue.

Top of your game

Law is an exciting, fast-paced career. We want our people to be able to operate at the top of their game over a long period of time, so being in peak condition, physically and mentally, is important for us as individuals and for the business.

If people are not well, it impedes our company’s ability to give the best to our clients and may even become a risk issue.

So, like any sportsman or woman, looking after ourselves and each other and building our resilience is key: better nutrition, fitness, sleep and so on.

Prevention mechanism

Businesses should adapt their approach to health and wellbeing by focusing on prevention rather than cure. At Hogan Lovells, we now have an integrated approach to wellbeing, promoting the physical and mental health of our people as a positive business driver.

We try to prevent problems developing by helping people to spot issues in themselves or in colleagues and having support readily available. For example, we moved our counselling service onsite a few years ago, offering this on a self-referral basis. We also engage with our onsite service providers such as occupational health, the catering team, and our gym provider to deliver a comprehensive programme of activity all year round.

Suffering in silence

Mental health should be a focus for all businesses. It’s estimated that one in four of us will be personally affected by mental ill health in our lifetime.

We are very aware that too many of us experience mental ill health or mental health related issues, often in silence, without feeling able to talk or to access the necessary support that is available.

Stamp out the stigma

Our focus has been to educate, raise awareness, and start to eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Being able to talk openly about mental health issues is vital, and finding role models in all areas of our business to demonstrate this can be extremely powerful.

Wave of change

We are all in this together across the City. Hogan Lovells is a leading member of the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) and that means we have been privileged to be part of an incredible wave of change for mental health in the workplace.

We have shared ideas and supported innovation by trying new things. Last year we launched our “This is Me” campaign, an initiative run in partnership with the Lord Mayor’s Power of Diversity Appeal, to share stories of mental health and to encourage more of these important conversations.

The feedback since launching the campaign has been tremendous, not just at our firm, where several colleagues have stepped forward to share their stories, but across the City. More than 75 organisations have now taken part, with over 100 stories shared.

We know that the campaign is helping us make good strides towards removing the stigma surrounding mental health in the City and, more importantly, it has given people the courage to seek help.

The more stories and examples of good practice we can share, the greater the impact. I strongly urge more organisations to get involved.

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