It's not 1 in 4, it's all of us

"Can't believe this weather! Is everything alright?"

When Jonny Benjamin first met Neil Laybourn over 10 years ago on Waterloo Bridge, a friendly chat saved a life and changed the rest of their lives forever. Fast forward to November 2018 and on Tuesday, I had the great pleasure of attending This Can Happen: the largest ever gathering of organisations across the UK to discuss mental health in the workplace – created by Jonny, Neil and Zoe Sinclair.

Mental health is certainly on the radar for organisations and with the latest research (announced by Accenture at the event) revealing that 9 in 10 of our workforce have been touched by mental health, it’s no surprise that everyone has their own personal story.

And on Tuesday, what really stood out for me and my organisation, and I’m sure for most others in the room, is how vitally important it is that we encourage those who want or feel able to talk to do so – whether it’s as simple as sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat with a colleague, inviting a friend over for dinner or starting a conversation with a stranger in need about the weather.

At Bright Horizons caring is at the core of our business, both in terms of the children and families entrusted to our care, and our people. We are incredibly proud of our 10,000 dedicated practitioners who have chosen to enter this profession but we continue to be mindful that this role demands a deeper emotional involvement on a daily basis than in many other jobs. Our people give so much of themselves and become part of a child’s family; they are likely to be sensitive and empathetic by nature.

It is our responsibility to support our people in setting boundaries, helping them to build resilience and find a positive work-life balance. It is also our responsibility to help them feel comfortable in asking for help, something that often doesn’t come naturally for people self-identifying as ‘the helper, the one who makes things better for others’. Wellbeing at Bright Horizons is holistic and encompasses mental, physical and emotional health. We place a great emphasis on encouraging our people to take up the support offered whenever they may need it and to seek help from our Diversity and Inclusion affinity groups, Mental Health Champions, online resources and counselling services. But most importantly for us is our commitment to fostering a culture of openness and Tuesday served as a timely reminder that it’s okay not to be okay, that it’s okay to ask for help.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at This Can Happen and to organisations across the UK and abroad who share our commitment to driving forward this important mission. We look forward to working alongside you as we continue on this journey together.

Denise Priest, Director of Employer Partnerships and Communications, Bright Horizons

The continuous prioritisation of work and family life can add up to what is known as ‘mental load’. Download our eBook Lightening the Mental Load to learn more about the impact of mental load on our employees and how employers can tackle it - with benefits for both the organisation and the individual.