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    Speaking about mental health issues is Not a Red Card Offence.

    Photo of Legal & General Chief Executive, Nigel Wilson1 in 4 of us will experience poor mental health at some time in our lives, at any time in our lives; irrespective of wealth, status, or privilege. It is the iceberg of modern life – an issue that is bigger than we think and has punctured the lives of some of our sporting, entertainment and business heroes.

    Mental health problems, from the clinically-diagnosed to those suffering from “presenteeism” (being present at work longer than required as a result of feeling insecure within your role), can have a real effect on productivity for businesses and employers that result in costs that are financial as well as human. We all recognise the importance of being in a caring, just and inclusive society; so is little surprise that addressing the size, stigma and cost of mental health is high on businesses’ agendas this year.

    Removing the stigma

    At Legal & General we reached out to our colleagues and spoke extensively with our customers to discover that those who need help are more willing to step forward if they are safe in the knowledge that there is a support network in place, and that there is active investment into their physical and mental well-being.

    International rugby referee Nigel Owens speaks about mental health

    As a result, we launched our “Not a Red Card Offence” campaign in May 2017 to help raise awareness, educate, and inspire action by working with sporting personalities, including Nigel Owens (international rugby referee), Clarke Carlisle (former Premier League footballer) and Rebecca Adlington (Olympic gold medallist). A sport-focused initiative - coupled with campaigns such as those involving the Princes and Veterans - are great at raising profile, but also drives home the point that anyone can be vulnerable to mental health issues. Equally as important, it also sheds light on the millions of ‘unsung heroes’ that are suffering in the workplace or at home on a daily basis.

    Our shared objective is to proactively change attitudes towards mental health. We know from our own research and surveying carried out by other organisations that there remains a stigma. Research shows that 78% of employers believed their employees would be happy in talking to a line manager/superior/HR about their mental illness whereas in reality, only 9% of employees stated that they were happy to do so. This shows a huge gulf in understanding, so our focus must remain on raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness.

    Bringing together employers and employees

    “Not a Red Card Offence” is a ground-breaking, one-day event from Legal & General that focuses on how sport can play a role in removing the stigmas associated with mental health in the workplace. Through inspirational talks, informative panels, practical workshops and valuable idea sessions, the gathering brings together employers and employees alike, along with sporting legends, health experts, and industry leaders to discuss what we can all do to raise awareness, educate, and introduce to make the workplace a safe place to talk about mental health.

    By supporting the outstanding work of charities and organisations such as Time to Change, City Mental Health Alliance, Mind, Business in the Community and MQ, I am confident that we can continue to improve support networks and echo their message through campaigns ran by businesses.

    The most successful sports teams trust, support and encourage each other – the same is true in business. It’s time to lead by example, strip the stigmas and talk about mental health.

    For more information about talking mental health issues within the workplace, please visit our Not A Red Card Offence website.


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