Changing Attitudes Towards Mental Health

  • Anastasia Vinnikova
  • 30 April 2019
  • Blog | Managing People | Blog

Anastasia Vinnikova from the Bank of England explains more about their Mental Health Network and the positive impact it’s having on employees.

Changing attitudes towards mental health

The Bank of England runs a programme to promote mental health in the workplace with internal and external stakeholders including the Mental Health Network, one of the Bank's employee diversity and inclusion networks. Anastasia Vinnikova, one of the co-chairs of the Mental Health Network, shares her thoughts on the subject.

I think the issue of a persistent stigma around mental health is a multi-faceted one which is often difficult to articulate. Many different elements influence the way employers, employees and wider society perceive mental health.

More and more people are speaking openly about their experiences with mental ill-health and increasingly employers are realising the value of ensuring they support the wellbeing of their staff.

Changing attitudes

I strongly believe that successful changes to attitudes around mental health have to rely on psychological wellbeing being a consistent focus in decision-making.

From a business perspective, allowing individuals to be open about their experiences both helps their peers to understand how to create a context in which they can perform their best, but also to support them when they are unwell.

It is always a challenge to obtain data around mental health – it is a very sensitive subject, and many colleagues are not ready or comfortable disclosing that they do suffer from mental ill-health. However, we include a Wellbeing metric in our annual all-staff survey, which is continually the best performing aspect of the survey.

Positive impact

Some of the most impactful evidence of the success of the culture we’re trying to create is anecdotal. We have had colleagues approach us to share the positive impact they have experienced from being able to discuss mental health either because it has been beneficial for them, or for others around them.

Much of the knowledge-sharing we aim to do around mental health is also not just specific to those at work – it’s information and understanding that colleagues can apply to their personal lives too. We have heard that this has enabled many to facilitate helpful and meaningful conversations with friends and family.

Opening up

My own personal experience with the open and supportive culture of the Bank with regards to mental health was that for the first time in five years of diagnosis with depression and anxiety, I felt empowered to speak up about my story.

After suffering in silence, I was finally able to open up to my friends, family and colleagues and I feel much more able to bring my whole self to work. Although some people never reach a stage where they want to be vocal about their mental health, if even just a handful of colleagues have felt a similar outcome, then the work is worthwhile.