Some of the biggest businesses of Canary Wharf are taking the time to look after their mental health this week, and are urging everyone else to do the same.
Mental Health Awareness Week , which runs from Monday, May 8 until Friday until Sunday, May 14, is a national campaign aimed at getting people looking after and talking about their mental health. This year it is running with the slogan ‘Surviving or Thriving?’.
Professional services company KPMG are working to raise awareness of mental health issues with the ‘Take 30 to Thrive’ campaign, which aims to underline the importance of taking some time out and away from work in order to stay well.
Senior manager and chair of KPMG’s Be Mindful network, Jessica Carmody, said she wants her colleagues to understand that mental health should be looked after just as carefully as physical health.
She said: “We love our jobs and we all work really hard, but it’s important to remember to look after ourselves whether or not you have any history of mental health issues.
“For Mental Health Awareness Week we really want to bring out that message to our colleagues and encourage them to learn about mental health, and the fact it affects everyone. By being considerate to each other and taking care of ourselves we can make an enormous difference.
“The main theme for this week is taking some time out, focusing on your own wellbeing and not just rushing through every day with an endless cycle of things you have to do. It’s important to take a step back and find something that’s for you to do for yourself.”
She added: “From personal experience, when I first considered talking about my depression to anyone at work, I felt quite afraid. I had never heard of anyone else doing it and I didn’t know how it would be perceived.
“We want to make people feel more comfortable and able to do that if they want to. It’s a personal choice but if they do want to open up at work then we want them to know it’s okay. We want to make sure people have access to any help they need.
“We just need to keep talking about it. Everyone who participates in the conversation is making a difference.”
The Be Mindful network organised 41 events at KPMG centres around the UK for Mental Health Awareness Week, including talks, laughing yoga, mindfulness sessions and group walks.
One person taking part in a 30 minute walk around Canary Wharf was KPMG’s head of international markets and government, Tony Cates.
Tony, who is also the sponsoring partner of the Be Mindful Network, said: “I’ve seen the effect of stress on people, not just in our organisation but in my own friends and family as well. It’s very important that people aren’t just trying to work at 110% all the time.
“So often people sit in back to back meetings or have a working lunch or stay really late, but it’s important to take a break and take some time for yourself.
“We want people to be the best they possibly can be. Looking after your mental health is so important for being great at what you do, so there’s a business case for it as well.
“It is a difficult thing for people to come out and talk about, we understand that. People do suffer and we need to recognise that, and we need to help them.”
Banking giant Citi is also supporting Mental Health Awareness Week by launching the campaign ‘Minds at Citi’ which aims to encourage talking about mental health issues, help employees spot when they or others are in difficulty and highlight what support is available.
The launch also included a video of senior executive assistant Rebecca Crow describing her own battle with postnatal depression and explaining why it is so important to ask for help.
Citi employees were also encourage to wear green wrist bands to show their support of Mental Health Awareness week. All 1,800 wrist bands supplied to the bank had been taken by employees by 10am on Monday, the first day of the campaign.
Head of human resources at Citi, Jenny Grey, helped to launch ‘Minds at Citi’.
She said: “A lot of people worry about discrimination in the work place so don’t seek help when they have a problem, and we want to change that.
“We want people to take better care of their mental health and know they can have support. People need to be able to talk about their mental health.
“Our employees have been so keen to show their support for the campaign. The most important thing is to raise awareness and to end the stigma around mental health.”
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