Taking to social media to support #WorldMentalHealthDay

In this article we discuss World Mental Health Day and the social media poll the Institute took of the governance community.

Each year #WorldMentalHealthDay gives organisations the opportunity to talk about the steps they are already taking and those they intend to take, in support of making mental health care accessible to all. This year’s event took place on 10 October, and The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland showed its support by using the Institute’s social media channels to poll the governance community for their thoughts on mental health.

The Institute’s social media campaign kicked off on 6 October, with governance professionals asked via LinkedIn and Twitter whether or not their organisations are doing enough to support them. The majority of respondents (53%) answered that their organisation is doing enough to support them, but 47% of respondents revealed that they are not receiving adequate support.

Given the events of the past year or so, it is perhaps unsurprising that people feel that their mental health has suffered. The COVID-19 pandemic started more than 18 months ago, and millions of people worldwide have seen an impact on their mental health. Health workers, frontline staff, students, people living alone and individuals with pre-existing conditions have been particularly badly affected, and we are only now starting to see the true toll that the pandemic has wrought.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has many resources to help those suffering with, or supporting someone with, mental health conditions. We used our campaign to direct people to these vital resources.

We also wanted to find out why 47% of respondents to our first poll felt unsupported by the organisations they work for. We asked what the barriers are that need to be overcome to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest response was stigma, with 38% of respondents identifying stigma around mental health as the main barrier that needs to be overcome. A further 32% of respondents identified lack of interest, closely followed by lack of knowledge, which was the chosen option of 27% of respondents. An additional 3% selected ‘other’ as a reason.

One respondent, who has used wellbeing services both as a team leader and as an individual, feels that the underlying issue is that wellbeing can be damaged at work through stress, workload, poor relationships and toxic colleagues. Concerns were voiced about confidentiality and conflict of interest, as well as worries that company wellbeing schemes might be used as part of performance management or as part of the whistleblowing process.

Interestingly the same respondent categorised many of the concerns as speaking to the heart of governance:

  • What power is used by whom?
  • For what purpose?
  • What are the controls and safeguards around that?
  • How transparent is it?

There are all valid concerns, but thankfully organisations seeking to improve their mental health wellbeing offer now have much greater access to resources thanpreviously. The Mental Health Foundation, for example, has produced a useful ‘How to support mental health at work’ guide that aims to give users an idea of how to manage their own mental health at work, an idea of how to reach out to a colleague in distress and an idea how to work with others to make your workplace more mentally healthy for everyone. Surely a useful first step in bolstering the movement to make mental health care accessible to all.

Maria Brookes, Media Relations Manager, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland

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