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As busy professionals, we’re expected to have all the facts at our fingertips. Statistics, recent decisions, up to date information, informed opinion, not to mention a myriad of details about office administration and the like. And this all means one thing - our minds are overloaded with information, stressed to the maximum with data, details, facts and figures. And, inevitably, this all takes its toll.
In fact, statistics from the mental health charity MIND show that almost eight people out of every one hundred suffer from mixed anxiety and depression, while one in five harbour suicidal thoughts.
Of course, these alarming figures aren’t solely the preserve of professionals, although it is true to say that those who work long hours, particularly in critical environments and with tight deadlines (and billable hours targets) to meet, are especially susceptible to mental health issues. Now, as someone who is only too aware of the stresses professional life can bring, this is an area that I am passionate about, as well as being committed to ensuring that people benefit from my own experiences.
With this goal firmly in mind, I have recently set up my #OneMind Petition. Available to view - and to sign, should you wish - here .My motivation is to require the government to change the law to make it mandatory for organisations to conduct mental health risk assessments in the workplace. This is a campaign which, in my experience as a lawyer practising in the sector, I firmly believe will result in organisations adopting better processes and procedures, as well as signalling a more positive message to their existing and future employees.
In fact, more than anything, it is now becoming almost a competition between enlightened employers to provide the best possible environments in which to employ staff. In a nutshell, this means that organisations are now actively beginning to recruit employees based not just on salary and other more obvious financial packages, but also their well-being credentials. And this is something I wholeheartedly applaud.
After all, what is the benefit of paying a headline-rate salary when the very thing that attracts candidates to the role is the ‘perk’ that makes the job so unappealing. Far better to have a role which pays well (of course, that’s de rigeur) but which is also allied to an inclusive, nurturing, positive working environment. Indeed, we spend such a large proportion of our waking hours at work that this time must be as conducive to our mental health and well-being as realistically possible.
In this regard, I firmly adhere to the view that a positive work-life balance is a critical factor in achieving a lasting mental health equilibrium, both in the workplace and beyond. Imagine the scenario where you’re amply financially rewarded, and yet you’ve effectively “sold your soul”. This is all too common in our fast-paced professional sectors, and many colleagues confirm my own views of many organisations, that this is simply unsustainable. Even young, healthy professionals cannot continue under this sort of pressure in the long-term. Something has to give.
So, my challenge to you is this. Let’s work to create a better, more holistic, sustainable workplace. Let’s strive to make mental health wellbeing the single most important ‘plus’ that attracts, then retains our staff, colleagues and employees. The result will be happier, more productive, more loyal staff, working in a happier environment, bringing with them happier longer-term clients.
To support this challenge our next Thriving Minds Annual Conference will take place at Leeds Civic Hall on 19th September 2019. Tickets can be purchased here.
Jodie Hill is the managing director of Leeds-based boutique employment and discrimination law practice Thrive Law
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