Campaigner and social entrepreneur Poppy Jaman believes the key to tackling mental health issues at work is to have corporate policies embedded at the boardroom level.
Jaman co-founded and has been CEO of the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) since 2015. The network of businesses was created after of the financial crisis and its aim is to remove the stigma of mental health problems at work.
With large-scale employers such as Deloitte, EY, Lloyds and HSBC as its members, the alliance is committed to championing best practice and equal treatment for physical and mental health conditions in the workplace. In November 2017, a second CMHA was established in Hong Kong.
The CMHA recently launched the Thriving from the Start Network, primarily targeting young workers entering the finance and professional services sector. The network aims to encourage open and honest dialogue on mental health challenges between new starters and senior management.
Recent research, undertaken by MIND, found that one in six workers experiences a diagnosable mental health issue in the workplace, while mental ill-health costs employers £34.9 billion a year through lost working days.
“If you were losing five million pounds because your IT didn’t work in a bank, what would you do?” posed Jaman in an interview earlier this year. “You’d get a consultant in and you’d spend £2 million to fix that problem. I don’t see why mental health is any different.”
Describing mental health as an “everybody issue,” she affirms the role her organisation can play in rallying big business to the cause: “They have the resources to try things out and give to the rest of society”, she says. “You’ve got big brands and big names making changes and influencing the rest of society. Then when we learn what works, we can publish it.”
Jaman is also