Mental health ‘needs to top the business agenda’

Welcome to the first in T ravel

Weekly’s Mental Health Matters series, focusing on the issues affecting mental health in the workplace and what companies can do to support employees


problem shared is a problem halved. We all know the famous saying, and when it comes to mental health problems, acting on this statement can be the first step on the

road to recovery. Te topic of mental health has become more

high-profile in recent years, as people, companies and institutions recognise the value of taking care of people’s mental health and wellbeing. More and more well-known figures have shared their

personal experiences of mental health in the hope it will help to eliminate the stigma and encourage others to speak up about their stories, and Travel Weekly’s Mental Health Maters series is designed to help travel firms improve their understanding and approach to this important subject. In the coming months, we will be discussing some of

the biggest issues surrounding mental health in the travel industry, from looking aſter employees’ mental health to working with customers with mental health problems looking to travel. Travel Weekly will also be hosting a Business

Breakfast event and a top-level industry round-table to further discuss some of the issues surrounding mental health in the travel workplace, and will hear from a range of people in the industry about their experiences.

Chris O’Sullivan

Chris O’Sullivan, from the Mental Health Foundation, speaks to Natalie Marsh about the work of the organisation and mental health in the travel workplace

health. Ten, over the last 20 to 25 years, we started to put a lot more research into practice.

Tell us about the Mental Health Foundation and its approach I look aſter both workplace mental health and corporate partnerships and corporate engagement work in the foundation. We are a UK-wide mental health charity and we exist to address the risk factors for mental health problems, so our focus is on prevention. Te idea is that only by preventing the impact mental health problems can have will we be able to solve the challenges we face. Tis is our 70th anniversary as a charity; we were founded in 1949 to address the disparity between research in physical health and mental

Are people talking about mental health? We’ve done quite well over the last few years to raise awareness that one in four people will develop a mental health problem, but anything that is ‘one in X’ gives us a chance to think ‘that’s not going to be us’. Te truth is, about one in six UK adults are experiencing the symptoms of a mental health problem at any given time. People are talking more about mental health, and they are, I think, acknowledging their own mental health, whether they are talking about it or not. When we asked people, “Have you at some point had a mental health problem?”, 65% said yes. We asked people, “Have you been stressed to the point of being overwhelmed or unable to cope?”, 72% said yes. Tat blows out of the water the idea that it is other people, that it’s ‘one in X’. We’ve done research on people’s

experiences of mental health problems in the workplace, and we know that only half of people who have a mental health problem disclose it to their employer. We do need to do more about having conversations. “It’s something that is extremely

important and the more we recognise that fluctuations in our mental health are as much a part of the human condition as fluctuations in our physical health, the beter we will be. 

6 JUNE 2019 13

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