This coming Wednesday January 31st in Canada is Bell’s Let’s Talk day – a day set aside to raise awareness about mental illness, and funds to support mental health. You’ve likely seen the ads from Bell in bus shelters, billboards and transit vehicles. If you don’t live in Canada, don’t let that stop you. It’s a topic we need to talk more about.
Awareness and funds are great things. But what happens after the day is over? Do we all just go back to our lives and carry on as-is? Or do we allow that day to change us?
Mental Illness at Work
Last week I came across an article by Rhoda Meek in the Harvard Business Review about mental health issues and the workplace – specifically, being open about having them and the needs and realities these issues create. And, how hard that can be if the environment you work in, and the leadership, is not supportive.
I’ll share the last line of Rhoda Meek’s article here, as it’s superb (as is the rest of the article): “We’re all human, and the more we can embrace that fact and be honest about our ups and downs, the more we’ll foster respect and trust in the workplace.”
She is absolutely right. And of course this goes for all identities. But mental health still carries a lot of stigma (and can be hidden) and so breaking through that, especially in an environment where we want people to see and experience us as competent and abled, can be extra challenging. It requires trust – as Rhoda mentions – and a sense of safety. The positive ripple effects of creating an environment like this are huge – Rhoda shares some sobering statistics from the UK:
- Almost 15% of people experience mental health problems while in the workplace.
- Women working full-time are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as their male counterparts (19.8% versus 10.9%).
- 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
This, plus other information she shares about the perception of people with mental illness by management, as well as the lack of support (including being fired) make for a grim picture.
Creating Greater Inclusion…
But change is possible with awareness, cultivating a sense of belonging and community. These are my ABCs of Inclusion and you can learn more about them, and my approach, in my White Paper (I wonder why they call it a white paper) The Future of Inclusion. Email me at Annemarie@annemarieshrouder.com and I’ll send you a copy.
Bell Let’s Talk day:
In the meantime, please read Rhoda Meek’s article, and get involved on January 31 – Bell’s Let’s Talk day. Here is some information about it:
Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions on January 31, at no extra cost to participants:
- Text and talk: Every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and, new this year, Bell MTS customers in Manitoba
- Twitter: Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and Bell Let’s Talk Day video view
- Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video at com/BellLetsTalk and use of the Bell Let’s Talk frame
- Instagram: Every Bell Let’s Talk Day video view
- Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let’s Talk geofilter and video view
You can find out more about the day here.
Get involved, read, listen, talk. Find out more. Share more. And if you don’t live in Canada, use it as an opportunity to start a conversation about what’s going on here.
But don’t forget about these stories and the people who live them after January 31.
Use them to move the needle forward on safety, trust and respect in the workplace.