Baillie Gifford’s Mental Health Group talk about their aims and ambitions in relation to destigmatising mental health issues.
Tell us about the Mental Health Group
The Group has nine members and was set up last summer due to a broad recognition that mental health issues are much more common than most people realise. There is still a real stigma around mental health which doesn’t necessarily apply to physical wellbeing and we believe we need to break that down. The reality is mental health issues can take many forms and wellbeing needs to be thought about across the whole spectrum.
What are the main objectives of the group?
The first is around destigmatising these issues; making it something we can all talk about openly. We want to get to a point where people can ask for help without worrying about how it will be perceived. As part of raising awareness, we also want to educate people on how mental health issues can manifest themselves. This will enable us to better spot the signs and look out for each other.
It is also key that we promote what we already offer by way of support in this area. We have a whole range of services aimed at fostering wellbeing at Baillie Gifford, including mindfulness sessions and yoga classes, as well as clubs that foster a sense of community, such as the choir and touch rugby. We also offer all staff access to the Employee Assistance Programme through First Psychology.
Additionally, we are looking at what other organisations are doing in this area and hoping to learn from them.
We want to get to a point where people can ask for help without worrying about how it will be perceived.
What initiatives are the group considering around the topic of mental health?
We are looking into a range of different initiatives at the moment and to help broaden out our thoughts and ideas, we have spoken to a number of organisations both locally and elsewhere in the UK.
We recognise that different people engage and learn in numerous ways so we are considering sessions from visiting speakers, seminars and access to literature around the research and scientific theory at the forefront of mental health. This approach will allow people to explore the topic as they wish.
In terms of support, we have established a more formal group of peer-support representatives; friendly faces who people can go to for a chat. In turn, they can direct individuals towards further assistance if required. We are also working closely with our counselling provider First Psychology to look at the service they offer.
In addition, we are looking to increase the practical measures that are aimed at physical and metal wellbeing within the firm. There are a number of apps available that help to support good mental health. There’s also the daily mile, a national initiative which encourages people to walk a mile each day in the name of improving overall wellbeing. And then, there’s reconnecting with nature through activities such as growing your own vegetables and the positive impact that can have.
What are the benefits to the firm of having this group?
The statistics around mental health issues illustrate just how common they are. One in four people will be affected by a mental health problem in any given year so it is very much a material consideration for us. But we also think that it is more fundamental than that. If we want to have healthy, happy, motivated people who will be with us for a long time and take great pride in working here then we have a responsibility to ensure we are taking mental health very seriously.