I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the Market Research Benevolent Association’s webinar discussing the topic of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, hosted by Jennifer Perry from the MRBA. The panel featured experts from the market research industry, such as James Pickles from James Pickles Coaching, Amanda Hammond from Opinium, Paul Vittles from The Jordan Legacy and Ben Tuttle from Hope Guardians, who shared their insights and experiences on how to create a mentally healthy workplace.
Breaking the stigma
For me, the most important lesson that came out of the webinar, was that mental health issues are more widespread in the workplace than people think. When you’re suffering with poor mental health, there’s a tendency to feel isolated and lonely, so you forget that many other people are facing similar issues. The webinar highlighted that regardless of gender, age or job title, mental health can affect everyone. It was enlightening to hear professionals in the market research industry speak openly about a topic that has previously been perceived as taboo. Webinars like this help break boundaries, which enable conversations to take place that wouldn’t have happened even five/ten years ago.
Another important part of the webinar I found empowering was learning about how industry professionals are helping people who are struggling with mental health issues. Ben Tuttle shared the mission of his company, which is to provide mental health support services to organisations and their employees. Ben emphasised the importance of creating a safe and comfortable environment for employees to talk about their mental health and delved into the value of therapy as an option. From experience, the normalisation of speaking about therapy, or even reaching out to a therapist takes enormous courage. It’s not something that’s easy for everyone but can also be the first step to healing and recovery – I know this from experience.
James Pickles’ story of his mental health struggles and recovery is a powerful reminder of the importance of mental health in the workplace. I was deeply moved by his bravery and honesty in sharing his experience, and it resonated with me as I could relate to the struggles he faced. His journey shows that mental health issues can happen to anyone, regardless of their job title or perceived level of success. It also illustrates that mental health is not a linear path and that it’s possible to recover and come out stronger on the other side.
Amanda Hammond also shared how organisations can educate employees on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and encourage them to support and reach out to their colleagues. I completely agreed with Amanda’s observation that mental health can affect everyone in unique ways. This can make it quite difficult for employers to understand when someone may or may not be suffering, which underlines the importance of speaking honestly about how you’re feeling to find the correct solutions.
What studies say
Another important topic that was covered during the webinar was workplace accommodations for employees with mental health conditions. Paul Vittles discussed the research that The Jordan Legacy did with MEL Research on suicide, which found that suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 45 in the UK. He emphasised how organisations can provide flexible working hours, remote work options, and accommodations for therapy or medication schedules to help mitigate the risk of suicide among their employees. It is important for employers to understand that mental health conditions are just as valid and deserving of accommodations as physical health conditions and that these accommodations can have a significant impact on the mental well-being and safety of their employees.
Moreover, the webinar underlined the importance of addressing the root causes of stress in the workplace such as unrealistic workloads, lack of clear communication, and lack of support. By addressing these underlying issues, employers can create a work environment that promotes mental well-being rather than contributing to mental health issues.
Overall, the MRBA’s webinar reinforced the fact that mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is a crucial topic that should not be ignored. By promoting open communication, empathy, understanding, and addressing root causes of stress, employers can create a work environment that not only benefits their employees, but also leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction.