Mental health – is it closer to home than we think?

Phil Storer, Private Business partner at PwC

According to recent research, published this week by The Mental Health Foundation, two in three adults have experienced mental health issues at some point in their life with a total of 65 per cent of Briton’s having been affected by conditions ranging from panic attacks, anxiety to depression.

The common misconception is that mental health issues only affect the weak and disadvantaged. In actual fact it affects everyone from all walks of life. Only last week it was widely reported in the media that Aaron Lennon the Everton footballer had been admitted to hospital suffering from a mental illness and it has been well documented the struggles Tyson Fury has had since he won the heavy weight world championship.

It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in our day to day lives and pay little attention to the pressures and stresses that we can quite easily succumb to and what one person might be able to cope with another may not. There are also the events in people’s personal lives that we are not directly aware of where on the face of it we think that someone is coping with but in reality they are not. Sadly only a minority of people experiencing mental ill health actually access professional support or have access to a network of support which they can turn to.

As part of this year’s  Mental Health Awareness Week PwC will be holding its second annual “Green Light to Talk Day” which will take place on Thursday 11 May. The day itself is designed to encourage an increased openness to having mental health conversations, and is one of the ways we’re contributing to building a much more open, caring and inclusive culture within the firm.

This week we are encouraging teams across the UK to wear a green ribbon to show their support and, as a public display of our commitment, our Embankment Place office in London will be lit in green throughout the week.

Our ‘Green Light to Talk Day’ is designed to de-stigmatise mental illness so that everyone not only values and understands their own mental health but they also get better at recognising when they might be under too much pressure and how to talk about this and ask for help.

Last year over 12,500 members of staff wore green ribbons, whether that be in our own offices or in client meetings or on client sites and they proved to be a great talking point.  Many of our clients were very curious to hear about what we were doing and some have since invited us to help shape their mental health agenda by sharing our approach with them.

I would encourage everyone to embrace this issue as no one is immune to mental health issues whether that’s in a professional or personal capacity, it’s all our responsibilities to keep a an eye out for the tell-tale signs and recognise that if we need to there is always someone to talk to.

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