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Over 75 organisations joined the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Peter Estlin, at Mansion House this week to launch the 2019 This is Me campaign. 

Now in its fourth year, This is Me is a pioneering mental health initiative that helps organisations reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace, dispel myths and build inclusive workplace cultures to improve employee wellbeing. 

Peter Estlin, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, said 

“Mental health matters to all of us and good mental health drives the economy. More and more, businesses are starting to understand this. Many organisations have done great work in supporting their employees’ mental health and the City of London is among them. Mental health is one of four pillars of The Lord Mayor’s Appeals strategy to create ‘A Better City for All’. “

The Lord Mayor urged businesses and organisations present to be part of the conversation and commit to speaking up for good mental health in their workplace in 2019 by adopting This is Me

Poppy Jaman, CEO of City Mental Health Alliance, chaired the event and highlighted that mental health is a conversation all businesses must be involved in.

“Workplace mental health is now a global priority as demonstrated by the conversation at Davos last month. This Is Me provides a simple but impactful tool to create a step towards bringing the mental health conversation to the fore within businesses. Data and financial case for change is important but winning and hearts minds can only happen when we connect with the human story, which is the purpose of This Is Me.”

Developed by Barclays and adopted by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal in 2016, This is Me has garnered the backing of businesses across the UK, with over 600 organisations signed-up to the initiative.

Paul Anderson, Managing Director at Deutsche Bank shared his experience of introducing This is Me across Deutsche Bank’s regional offices and highlighted the importance of the campaign in promoting open dialogue.

“For us, the provision of employee support helplines, occupational health schemes and mental health first aiders on the premises are the fundamental pillars of dealing with poor mental health when it affects our colleagues.  However, the most effective way to promote open dialogue around the issue and encourage people to use those resources is to create a visible cohort of people with direct lived experience who are brave enough to tell their story.  The most impactful way of doing that has been the “This is Me” video, which reaches the whole workforce via our internal website.  It doesn’t matter whether they are filmed on a mobile telephone or professional AV equipment, the outcome will be the same: progress on the journey towards making it OK to not be OK.  I’d encourage any other employers to join the programme and the network of support and events that comes with it.”

Emma Freeman, Claims Specialist at Swiss Re and Chair of Swiss Re’s mental health network, also shared her experience of implementing This is Me within Swiss Re and gave the audience practical and honest advice.

"Budget is always going to be a challenge. However we created a This Is Me video with the grand budget of £0! We used simple equipment so as not to intimidate the participant and this helped to create a more relaxed environment. We also created a FAQ page, which helped people understand what would be expected of them if they were to participate. This helped put people at ease and generated lots of volunteers. My biggest piece of advice would be not to rush, these things can take more time than you expect and that is ok.

The impact the video has is simply incredible. People are blown away by the openness and honesty. It makes people feel they're not alone and that it's ok not to be ok. We found a lot of people reached out to our Wellbeing Champions after the video was released, accessing the help they needed. It really is a wonderful campaign and one I would encourage all of you to be a part of."

Richard Martin, Director at byrne.dean shared his personal story with the audience, which served as a powerful reminder of the importance of supporting mental health in the workplace and beyond. 

The Lord Mayor's Appeal aim to work with more businesses and employees in 2019 to change the culture around mental health in the workplace. To get involved and see how This is Me can support your organisation, please click here.

To read more about the conversation around mental health at Davos, click here.