Mental health in a changing healthcare sector
10 October 2018
Today is World Mental Health Day which, this year, has a focus on young people and mental health in a changing world.
At PwC we take wellbeing and mental health very seriously, and days like today give us all an opportunity to take stock not only of ourselves, but also of those whom we work alongside on a day-to-day basis.
In recent years we have launched several initiatives, and one of the most important is the Green Light to Talk campaign. We hope to break down the social and psychological barriers, empowering people to speak up to reduce the number of people that suffer in silence. Last year, the Campaign was adopted by The Lord Mayors Appeal with 70,000 green ribbons distributed to 130 organisations. We have also developed a mental health app for all of our employees to download onto their phones so they know where and who they can go to if they need support. Myself and 12 of my PwC Partners have been trained as Mental Health advocates, an important step to normalising mental health.
The whole population experiences mental health issues differently, with one in six people in the UK reporting that they have experienced a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week. It is important to recognise that we all sit somewhere on the mental health continuum and where we are on this continuum will change throughout our lives and throughout our careers.
The NHS is the largest public sector employee in the UK, and overall the fifth largest globally. It is no secret that the NHS is under immense pressure to deliver high quality public services against a backdrop of increasing demand and financial difficulty. It is therefore no surprise that individuals working in this environment are also at risk of developing mental health problems. Poignantly, the number of NHS mental health staff who have had to take sick leave because of their own mental health issues has risen by 22% in the past five years.
Although there’s been some progress in confronting the stigma of mental health in the workplace, it’s still quite rare for leaders, whether in the world of public or private sector, to admit their own vulnerabilities. I’m fully supportive of, and heartened by, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s commitment to putting mental health as a priority. The increased prominence of mental health is long overdue and must continue, not only in the form of traditional health services but with investment in emerging digital technologies for mental health, and in cross-sectoral preventive action.