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    Suffering in Silence: Mental Health Issues Plaguing London City Workers

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    Mental Health Awareness week has started in the UK, but this time the focus appears to be on those who are working in the City of London. For those suffering from mental ill-health the experience can be an extremely painful one, as it drains and damages the individual who is going through it.

    Statistics have shown that mental health problems cost the UK economy over US$28 billion a year, through lost days working, staff turnover and low productivity.

    According to a Business in the Community (BITC) Mental Health at Work Report 2016, 3 in 4 employees have experienced mental health problems in the workplace; as a result campaigners are calling for the stigma of mental health in the workplace to be broken.

    Findings from the biggest UK-wide survey conducted by Time to Change — a campaign group looking to break the stigma around mental health — showed that 38 percent of respondents had been negatively treated as a result of their mental health problem.

    As a result of the high number of city workers who are prone to mental health issues, the Lord Mayor of London, Andrew Parmley, has launched an appeal called "This is Me in the City," in partnership with Barclays, Business Health, City Mental Health Alliance and Mind. The aim of the campaign is to change attitudes towards mental health in the city by getting organizations to collaborate and build inclusive workplace cultures.

    2016 saw over 75 organizations sign up for the initiative, with 22 of those companies running their own This is Me campaigns.

    "It is just as important for organizations to look after the mental health of their employees, as it is to support their physical health. 'This is Me in the City' aims to breakdown stigmas and dispel myths around mental health, in order to improve our awareness and understanding of employee well-being," Dr Mr. Parmley, said in a recent interview.

    "Working environments in the City of London can be extremely demanding and high-pressured, and it is in the interest of both businesses and their staff to collaborate in order to change the culture around mental health for good," Mr. Parmley added.

    Adam Spreadbury, a financial regulator with the Bank of England, joined via the bank's graduate recruitment scheme 20 years ago. After being ill with bouts of depression, he was forced to go on sick leave. The response from the Bank of England was invaluable, according to Adam, who said that they played a major role in supporting him.

    With strong and visible support from the senior leadership, the bank is fostering a culture in which mental health can be discussed as openly as physical health. In 2012, Mr. Spreadbury helped to set up a mental health network to provide support to colleagues.

    "We try to normalize mental health, if you do struggle, it need not be a problem," Mr. Spreadbury said in a recent interview.

    "The majority of things we have done require time, rather than expense. Raising awareness doesn't cost money. It is about having that conversation and demonstrating the commitment to support staff. The Bank does it because it is the right thing to do. But it also recognizes the business benefit," he added.

    According to Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, a charity that helps bring awareness of mental health issues to the forefront, employees sharing their own experiences, sends a clear message to other staff that they can do the same. It also encourages employees to talk openly about these issues.

    "It's also really important that staff are reassured that if and when they do speak out, they'll be met with support and understanding, rather than stigma and discrimination," Mr. Farmer said.

    However campaigners believe that more can and should be done to help combat mental health issues. According to BITC, the culture of silence must be broken and employers need to be actively asking employees about how they feel and training relevant people to handle mental health concerns.

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    Tags:
    employer-employee relationship, taboo, Workers, employees, mental health, public health, employment, illness, City of London, Britain, United Kingdom, London
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