I can’t stress enough that any approach to mental wellbeing needs to be strategic not tactical.

There is a huge amount of mental health awareness now, which is amazing. However, I am worried that the conversation with some businesses still centres around implementing off-the-shelf activities without detailed workforce and business needs discovery, risk analysis and mitigation, sustainable and scalable programme development and credible measurement, all rolled into a cohesive mental wellbeing strategy. I’m sad to say I, and others, say ‘box ticking’ far too often.

Let me be clear, people’s lives are at stake. I’m normally the last to talk negatively, but I feel so strongly about this because this subject is arguably the most sensitive for individuals and puts people at their most vulnerable when they start to talk to medical professionals, loved ones and colleagues about their intimate experience. If a business truly values its people it will invest in a well thought through mental wellbeing strategy, which reflects its specific workforce needs.

When you Google ‘stigma’ most of the results on page one use mental illness stigma as an example, even though stigma is associated with a myriad of subjects. This shows that mental illness stigma is the most prominent, searched and read content, therefore, in my opinion, the No1 personal stigma anyone can face.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50! Research suggests that mental ill health contributes to 90% of suicides. Mental wellbeing programmes must not be a tick box exercise, simply thrown together or tasked to someone to explore and develop who just happens to be interested and available.

This is a strategic concern and must be aligned to the overall wellbeing, people and business strategies, with C Suite sponsorship and governance.

Get it right and you can expect a positive effect on a number of critical things:

  • People and business productivity:
    • Employee engagement.
    • Absenteeism.
    • Presenteeism.
  • Tri brand value:
    • Consumer brand.
    • Employer brand.
    • Investor brand.

Get it wrong and ……. well I don’t really want to spell out the potential risks because I think they are obvious.