The United Nations’ top health envoy, Dr Dainius Pūras believes governments around the world must end austerity and job insecurity in order to conquer a rising mental health epidemic.
Ahead of a new mental health report that will be delivered to the UN in Geneva next week, Dr Pūras believes that the key to relieving mental pressure is through addressing social inequality and discrimination.
The best way to invest in the mental health of individuals is to create a supportive environment in all settings, family, the workplace. Then of course [therapeutic] services are needed, but they should not be based on an excessive biomedical model.
And yet for so many individuals, operating in a supportive environment can feel incredibly out of reach.
In an effort to create a safer haven for employees, Fletchers devised an in-house mental health strategy.
Now, nearly 18 months on, the proposal has sprung into life.
Team members across the organisation known as Mental Health Champions are actively involved, from non-legal apprentices to senior legal figures.
Nurse Analyst Supervisor, Debbie Moore explains:
The role of a Mental Health Champion in the work place is essential and the stigma of admitting to suffering with anxiety and stress is becoming a thing of the past.
Debbie, who has recently been awarded for her services to mental health in work and the wider community, believes a good supportive firm will make the difference between staff wanting to be in work or not.
Statistics will show a rise in mental health-related illness in the work place as mental health is definitely a topic that you hear more people talking about.
But when you have high-profile figurs such as William, Kate and Harry as advocates, things have and will continue to move forward.
Fletcher’s efforts to raise mental health awareness has certainly gained momentum.
Earlier this month five Champions volunteered at Southport’s Revitalise Centre, the respite holiday home for those living with disabilities.
In May, the Southport office took part in #TourDeFletchers where team members competed for the glory of travelling the furthest distance inside ten minutes.
The firm has seen an uptake in male interest, too.
This Sunday 30th June a number of Fletcherians will participate in a 5-a-side tournament fundraiser in aid of CALM – the male suicide charity.
There is, however, a more sensitive side to the Champions’ work.
Each Champion is trained on handling various situations that range from discussing a difficult situation with a colleague to confronting a potential suicide.
Both Senior Solicitor, Patricia Hitchen and Litigation Executive, Liam Bestwick have experienced such training and believe the best starting point for anyone struggling is to speak out.
Mental health will touch and affect every one of us at some point in our lives and whilst some illnesses are and can be treated with therapies and prescriptions, an uncertain future will have a detrimental impact on us all.
No one should have to face a mental health problem on their own.
Liam also believes that if you are struggling then you must speak out.
Suicide rate amongst men in the UK is the lowest in 30 years.
This is arguably due to greater awareness of mental health and recognition of the importance of medical treatment.
While Dr Pūras’ comments are excellent in terms of encouraging debate and increasing awareness of mental health, there is a risk that attributing poor mental health to government austerity could put off sufferers from seeking well-needed and medically backed treatment.
So where do we go from here?
The reality is that there is still a long way to go, just as there is for every place of work.
Debbie, however, is proud of the direction Fletchers is heading.
Mental Health is such a big issue now due to pressures both at work and at home as both go hand in hand.
“The pressure to be high performing at work and manage financially at home is a constant juggling act.
“Getting your work-life balance is key to wellbeing.