Workers worried about speaking out about their mental health

See Me staff launch the charity's new campaign
See Me staff launch the charity's new campaign

Workplaces across Scotland are being encouraged to change their culture, as newly published stats reveal nearly half of Scottish workers think people in their work wouldn’t speak about their mental health for fear of discrimination from their colleagues.

See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, is launching a new campaign, working with employers to improve mental health, so people feel safe to speak out if they are struggling.

A YouGov survey of 1165 Scottish workers, commissioned by See Me, found 46 per cent disagreed that someone in their work would be well supported by management who are trained to help and advise people with mental health problems. However 31 per cent said that had personally experienced a mental health problem.

See Me said the figures demonstrate that workers have serious concerns on talking about their mental health.

To change this, they are encouraging organisations to join their See Me in Work programme as well as launching a hard hitting campaign, The Power of Okay, which includes a poem that will appear on cinema screens, about the isolation people feel when they can’t speak out at work.

Ian Greenhill, one of the founders of production company Something Something, wrote and performed the poem, based on his own experiences, and also directed and produced the video with partner Jordan Laird.

He said: “I personally think it’s important to start the discussion about mental health and the simple start-off point of ‘okay’ seemed really powerful.

“We just want a discussion to be started rather than people being scared of saying the wrong thing and just not saying anything.

“If we all start out at that base level of human kindness, I think the world - and workplace - would be a lot better.”

The See Me in Work programme works with employers to create inclusive and welcoming cultures where there is a good understanding of mental health. This includes working with senior management, improving policies and training all staff.

The programme also looks at how much money companies could save by improving the mental health of their employees, reducing absences and staff turnover.

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, added: “You don’t have to be an expert to speak about mental health, just asking someone if they are okay can be a powerful thing.

“In the workplace, there needs to be enough trust and openness for people with mental health problems to feel confident enough to talk, without the fear that they will be stigmatised and discriminated against.

“It is crucial that leadership in promoting better mental health comes from the top and staff are supported by policies and in practice.

“It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a mental health condition, but if people don’t feel they will be supported by management, as the figures show, then people won’t be able to speak about important issues.

The Power of Okay campaign will be shown in cinemas, online and on radio through November and December.

See the Power of Okay film here: