The mental health discussion has been taking place on much more public platforms in recent years. Mental health charities like Mind have placed marketing campaigns much more prominently, using social media to expand their reach. Does knowledge equal acceptance?
Mental health charities reach out
For charities and public services this sort of visibility is essential to allow appropriate signposting of their services for anyone that needs it. Time to Change initiated a campaign aimed at young people, young men in particular. Launched with the intention of addressing the stigma of mental health problems, it was also a valuable resource for more information.
LADBible does mental health
The next level to this might be those content sites whose primary function isn’t related to mental health, but recognise its growing importance in the public consciousness (rather than a private one).
LADBible launched a three month campaign called UOKM8? It was aimed at raising awareness of suicide as the biggest killer of their main audience demographic; British men aged under 45. Though LADBible is a commercial enterprise, they took it as an opportunity to join forces with various charities who could offer more practical support. It very much featured ‘the everyman’, demonstrating how mental health issues can and do affect anyone.
The campaign featured well known men talking candidly about their own experiences in a bid to alleviate the stigma felt by sufferers. By talking about mental health in a way which resonates with a group of people who are, statistically, least likely to seek help, it did a lot to make men feel they could show emotion.
Taking mental health into the workplace
With so much conversation take place in the digital world about depression, anxiety, and mental health in general, it’s fair to expect that at least some of that would filter down into real life.
It seems there is still a long way to go. A YouGov poll into the attitudes towards mental health revealed that 48% of people won’t reveal their mental health issues to an employer for fear of losing their job. 55% think a disclosure of this nature could lead to someone being passed over for promotion.
These are big numbers. Even though the law is on the side of the employee (it is illegal for an employer to treat staff differently because of their mental health), the perception of risk is hard to shake off.
The high cost of workplace mental ill health
Mental ill health in the workplace can be difficult to navigate for all involved. Employers need to balance business need with a duty of care for their staff. Employees who badly need to concentrate on effecting a recovery usually bear the dual torture of an episode of mental ill health severe enough to require time off work with the knock-on effect of worrying it might be a threat to job security.
According to a report from the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, British business could save up to £8 billion a year by managing mental health at work more effectively. It suggests that when the opportunity to step in arises, it’s already too late.
Marketing for mental health awareness
It seems that the awareness campaigns have done a huge amount to encourage mental health discussion in a social space, but that workplace perceptions are harder to shake off. Dr Pablo Vandenabeele from Bupa urges employers to take early action, so that employees know they are in a safe space and feel supported. “You don’t want to have the first conversation about mental health with an employee when they are already starting to struggle.”
May is Mental Health Awareness month, and we will be running a series of articles around the subject.