Since opening up personally about my own mental difference I have campaigned tirelessly on two fronts:
To celebrate the capabilities, skills and gifts mental difference gives to people and how business can leverage these.
Changing the language and narrative away from ‘Project Doom’ to a more positive way of discussing the subject, to encourage more people to open up and share their experience, expertise and support to help others.
I’m going to blend the two for a few minutes.
If you search for mental health statistic you will find thousands of websites and reports, with thousands of statistics. I know I’ve done it!
You will find data ranging from how many people are affected, through how many people are absent from work as a consequence and utilising public and private health services, to the cost to UK and Global business and the NHS and its equivalents around the world. It’s all too bloody negative!
I named it ‘Project Doom’ above because the predominant data and metrics we are continually exposed to are, and the reporting on mental health and illness is, always oh so negative.
In fact I have only managed to find one positive report with associated positive statistics amongst the plethora of negatives!
Well done Mental Health Foundation (@mentalhealth), Oxford Economics (@OxfordEconomics) and Unum (@AskUnum), who between them produced a report in 2016 highlighting that;
UK workers with mental health problems contributed £226 billion to UK GDP last year!
It goes on to state that;
This is nine times more than the cost of mental health problems to economic output – an estimated £25 billion in foregone gross value added that the UK economy missed out on because people with mental health problems could not join the labour force, were less productive at work, took sick days or required informal carers to leave employment for them.
Hello to my new bible and three favourite organisations, hello to you.
They, like me, want to focus on the positives and celebrate the contribution people with mental difference make, which is so important if we want to truly remove the stigma and enable people to open up, get the support they may need and bring their whole selves to work.
I don’t want to be reminded by old reporting that I could be a cost to business and productivity. I don’t want to be reminded that I might be a burden on the health service and the UK economy. I don’t want to be reminded that I have a hidden illness/disability, because it was one of the reasons I blooming well continually hid! I was continually and subliminally reminded to hide as it wasn’t the done thing to talk about ones ‘hidden stuff’!
Others don’t want to be reminded or told this either, and if we want to truly embrace a very personal subject to many more than the 1 in 4 figure that’s regularly reported (in reality we all know it much more than that and why it’s such a major topic in the hearts of many now), we need to continue on this positive communicative path.
So are you personally and professionally ‘OPEN’ for mental difference business? The start for anyone, or any business, is to open up themselves / itself.
Start, evolve and sustain conversations about mental difference in a positive light. Maybe organise internal meetings and events to focus on mental difference in the workplace using an upbeat language and narrative. Identify individuals throughout the organisation who are passionate about mental difference who may want to discuss their experience with others in some way. Support them to do so to demonstrate you value the contribution they are making to the wellbeing of the workforce, which will encourage more to enter the conversation.
Be compassionate and human and OPEN for mental difference business, then keep that conversation going!
I said this is just the start because there is so much more that can be done, tactically and strategically to do the right thing, engage with the workforce, harness the capabilities and skill sets of those with difference and impact demonstrable on productivity.
Maybe the subject for future articles, or get in touch because you might have noticed I like talking about mental difference and associated capability.
I’m here to help and want to reach the millions out there with mental difference. The most logical way to do that is to work with organisations, groups and employers to achieve best practice and amplify it across their followers and workforces.