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mental health

Mental health: de-stigmatise the issue

Mental health issues are high on the agenda within the industry as millions of days are lost through mental health sickness, while The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is pushing for mental health first aid to become law. Kate Gaskin, director at Right Angle Corporate Events, who this week will be speaking at the Meeting Show, answered some key questions on the subject.

Why do you think mental health and wellbeing is currently such a hot topic of discussion?

It has been the elephant in the room for a long time. People are now acknowledging stress, anxiety and depression, and because of media and high-profile individuals, it is becoming more socially acceptable to talk about it.

What are some of the mental health issues related to working in the events industry?

Fear of failure and poor performance. Fear of making mistakes and not completing a task. Time pressures. Being asked to undertake roles above their level of competency, either some or all of the time. There is a high correlation between event production staff and high stress levels.

One participant in our study said: “Everything seems to be such a huge mountain and so super important life-or-death kind of thing, when in reality we’re organising events. It should be a joyful thing to do. I see my colleagues who've been in the same hotel for over 20 years doing the same and they're still super stressed. This can't be fair, nor right.”

How can we all be more mindful of mental health in the workplace?

Mental health and wellbeing should be part of any company's strategy in relation to their staff. It should be an agenda item at all key meetings and companies should de-stigmatise the issue and have an open-door policy when it comes to mental health wellbeing.

What can the industry do as a whole to ensure mental health sickness doesn't become an epidemic?

Companies must have an open and transparent policy of how mental health issues are dealt with in the workplace and encourage communication among staff to remove the stigma of mental health issues. Mental health wellbeing needs to be a standing item on team and board meetings and companies should have a documented mechanism for dealing with colleagues who are off sick suffering with mental health issues. They should also monitor the fallout of employees who do call in sick due to stress or depression.

Other things that companies could do are find out what elements of the job are inducing stress, run an on-site fitness regime, introduce a healthy eating policy and hold regular workshops around associated areas of mental health well-being. These things need to become normal for the industry to shift as a whole.