Every single one of my closest friends has been affected in some way by mental health issues, so to say it’s something close my heart would be an understatement.
This year’s World Mental Health Day is focused on mental health in the workplace. Having worked in a toxic work environment I have a whole load of thoughts on this. That same toxic workplace recently forced one of my best friends into unemployment and debt. And I can guarantee any complaint will not be taken seriously, because that is just the way it is.
Actually, it’s worse than that. I can guarantee that any complaint will not only be ignored, but that the complainant will be made to feel worse for having spoken up. I’ve seen it happen. They will be chastised for being “negative”. Asked how they can “take responsibility” to help change the way things are. Told that they’re “overreacting”. That person will be passed over for opportunities for being “volatile”. All for speaking out about how bad things really are.
This comes from a company that within its culture and values places the well being of its staff at the heart of it what does. The staff are well paid and afforded good benefits. But that’s not what it’s really about, is it. You can pay people well and give them nice things, but at the end of the day it’s how they are treated that matters most.
If within your business you have people crying every time they’re at work, high levels of sickness due to mental health problems, a lot of complaints among staff, then you need to take a long hard look at how you do things.
Trust me, there’s no point trying to be “understanding” of mental health problems if you cannot acknowledge that you caused the problems in the first place. People are not “being negative” or “overreacting” when they tell you they’re upset by how things are done. No one’s point of view is any less valid than another’s, especially if that point of view is coming from a place of struggle.
What will it really take for change to happen? What will make these people listen? I sure as hell hope it doesn’t take a suicide to change things. Though they’d probably explain that away too.