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Mental health in the City is critical

The Dragon Café in the City is just one initiative that can help improve London’s mental health, says Lord Mayor Charles Bowman.

Lord Mayor Charles Bowman

May 2018

If you asked a City employer what their most valuable assets were, you’d hope most of them would answer ‘our people’. But looking after your most important asset is not always plain sailing.

At any one time, one sixth of the working-age population of the UK experience symptoms associated with mental ill health, and with the majority of the City’s 483,000-strong workforce employed in highly-skilled roles, mental health and wellbeing is increasingly recognised as a business-critical issue.

According to research carried out by Deloitte, employees’ poor mental health costs employers between up to £42bn annually. As well as sickness absence and staff turnover, these losses are caused by the phenomenon of presenteeism, where employees are at their desks but just not productive. The wider economy and the NHS also feel the knock-on effects, so improving mental health can have far-reaching benefits.

But there is a strong commitment in the City of London to the mental health and wellbeing of our workers, residents and visitors.

The newly launched Dragon Café in the City is a free facility open to anyone working or living in the Square Mile, to take a break. It brings together partners from charities, business, and the City of London Corporation to develop resilience and promote mental wellbeing among those feeling stressed or anxious.

The café’s wide range of creative activities, in an informal setting, are already being used by local businesses and their staff.

My own charity, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, aims to end the stigma around talking about mental health in the workplace through “This is Me” and the green ribbon campaign, which will highlight the need to change attitudes.

Looking to the business community, the City of London Corporation’s Business Healthy programme and the City Mental Health Alliance both provide platforms for employers to demonstrate and share best practice in this area.

Work continues across the Square Mile to raise awareness about mental health among our worker and resident communities. As organisations’ standards are raised, so are the expectations of clients and talented workers.

It is a race to the top, and nobody wants to miss out.

Charles Bowman is the 690th Lord Mayor of the City of London, an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and member of the London Society of Chartered Accountants.

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