Andrew Russell, our librarian, recently attended a symposium put on by the Mental Health Foundation on mental health in the workplace

There are over 31 million people in the workplace and 1 in 5 suffer from a mental health problem during their lifetime – most whilst working. Approximately 86% of those affected said working helps. Yet less than 40% of Managers feel confident in dealing with mental health issues. Many employees do not disclose for fear of being judged. A theme at the Symposium was creating conditions where staff could disclose positively and ideally where Senior Staff could act as mentors. Openness, honesty and trust seemed to be the key messages. The event was organised by the Mental Health Foundation and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Five presentations – Professor J. Hughes on the Armed Services and mental ill health, Helen Lee Savage on tackling acute mental distress, Sara Preston on eating disorders, Dr Logan on championing the rights of dyslexic adults in the workforce. Finally Adele-Owen, Police Constable & Force Mental Health Lead at Greater Manchester Police and her work on creating mental health support networks within the police force.

I took away a powerful impression of all the speakers creating an innovative openness in the workplace or community where they operated. Also they had been empowered and their knowledge broadened by winning a Churchill Memorial Trust grant to look at and liaise with similar organisations abroad. As Professor J. Hughes pointed out ‘all you need to know is that I am human’ as he recounted his own previous battle with mental illness and his valuable ongoing work with traumatised war veterans.