Mental Health Awareness Week

Ian Dykes Tax Leader, PwC United Kingdom 12 May, 2017

Our Midlands Tax partner and mental health ambassador, Ian Dykes, blogs on why as Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) comes to an end, we should remain focussed on the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.

Our endurance needed in the workplace can often be like that of running a marathon – maintaining a level of performance whilst making sure we don’t burn out physically or mentally before reaching our goals.

MHAW gives us a great opportunity to shine a light on mental health in the workplace, and discuss the issues and ways we can support colleagues to openly discuss and tackle wellbeing issues.

It struck me as I engaged with colleagues across the business this week that the majority of people taking part in MHAW activities are naturally self-selected, often having experienced mental health issues themselves or through friends and family. Our challenge now is how do engage the wider business and keep mental health awareness on the day-to-day agenda.

Having myself suffered from stress, I am more than aware of the day-to-day pressures and expectations in the workplace, and the pressures put on us not only by work but indeed ourselves to perform.

Our challenge is that for many people, including myself and others who have experienced the effects of stress and depression, it isn’t something you are aware of or interested in discussing until it happens to you. Our ability to have open and trusted conversations with our colleagues and people managers is essential to act as a preventative measure rather than a cure.

We may avoid the difficult conversations at work or at home. For many of us, our attitude to mental health issues can be: ‘I don’t have time to be ill, I must continue to perform.’ But the reality is that in order to perform we need to be healthy.  

As colleagues and managers we can equip ourselves with the tools, such as asking the right questions, to identify when we need to support each other. These can be simple questions such as; are you sleeping ok? Are you getting enough time with family? Do you feel part of a team? These can help us start to lift the lid on the impacts of stress in the workplace.

It is important to have the banner of MHAW, but let’s not slip back into our day jobs and routines and forget the importance of looking out for each other. We pride ourselves on the ambitious and hardworking people within the firm, who by their nature, place emphasis on performance. However, we need to balance work and life, and the pressures that come with these. Healthy performance is important to us all so let’s identify the issues before we hit ‘The Wall’.

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