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Developing the right mindset

We should all ensure no stigma is attached to mental illness, says Andy Salkeld. Being alert to stress in the workplace, focusing on mental health, motivation, coaching and development should all be part of an organisation’s duty of care

While a very clear, very serious pandemic has changed our world, a more subtle and potentially longer-lasting pandemic has been taking place alongside it – mental illness, which has been brought to the forefront of discussions over the past year. I have spent this period working towards becoming one of only a few people in the UK who are a joint chartered accountant and chartered psychologist, and have just concluded a research project into the stigma of mental illness within professional services organisations (Broken the Stigma? available at tinyurl.com/BAM-BreakingStigma). I believe mental health is important to us and our businesses.

Our minds work in tandem with our bodies, not in isolation. The more we perpetuate the notion of them being separate, the harder it becomes to help people struggling with either. While not a psychiatric diagnosis, stress is a normal part of life and it is interwoven with our immune system. Acute and/or prolonged exposure to stress has been shown, in some cases, to cause mental illness and it is often present together with anxiety and depression. If, as either an employee or an employer, you recognise that stress could be part of your workplace, you need to accept the importance of mental health to your organisation.