Looking back at 2018 I am extremely proud of everything we have achieved at the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA). Our first event in January really set the tone for the year ahead. I stood in a room with 21 of our senior sponsors across our membership, who were all starting the year becoming trained in mental health first aid skills. That day demonstrated to me the commitment of our leaders in the CMHA to changing the mental health culture in their businesses.
Creating mentally healthy workplaces
Throughout the year we continued to collaborate with our members to share good mental health practice. At our second event the operational leads from our member organisations came together to discuss the practical implications of Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer’s independent review of mental health and employers. Together, out of this discussion, we created our Thriving at Work Guide, a unique toolkit to help businesses become mentally healthy workplaces. The guide is now being recognized around the world as a structured, practical approach to building a strong mental health strategy at work.
It has been wonderful to see all the strategies and tools our members have used in the last year to create a culture of openness in the workplace, free from mental health stigma. Our members are now ending the year assessing and benchmarking themselves against the Thriving at Work Guide to understand where improvements can be made. The progress we have seen – from taking a policy document to creating a practical guide and then an assessment tool – is a fantastic change programme taking place collaboratively across our membership.
Ensuring all voices are heard
Our focus this year has been to inspire business leaders to open the door for change in their organisations and equip our members with the skills and tools they need to make these changes. At a leadership level we have helped to make mental health a boardroom issue. In addition, to ensure all voices are heard, we have engaged with those early in their careers. In November we launched our Thriving from the Start Network, a new mental health community where people starting their careers in the City can talk openly about mental health at work, share ideas and feedback insights to City business leaders.
Our efforts haven’t just been in the UK. I am so proud of what CMHA Hong Kong has achieved this year. Our team there has developed their own evidence-based workplace mental health training which is now being offered to Hong Kong members. As a result, the momentum in Hong Kong is building and our membership there is growing. As we look ahead to 2019, I look forward to growing our presence globally. We also plan to strengthen our UK strategy, to ensure the work we are doing in London can support our members in other the regions where they operate.
Talking openly about mental health
Perhaps one of the most telling signs that progress is being made, is that we have been recognized as a key partner in taking the mental health agenda to the World Economic Forum 2019 in Davos. It seems to me an incredible milestone as I look back to that first event of the year. Even more significant is that when we first set out six years ago, I couldn’t find a single person willing to tell their story. This year, however, have made significant progress with senior business leaders talking more openly about their experience of mental health. For me, this is one of the most powerful ways to create a culture of openness and elicit change.
Thank you and Merry Christmas
As we come to the end of 2018, I want to say a huge thank you to all of our members for the incredible work being done to ensure that mental health is discussed in the same way as physical health. Whilst the CMHA’s goal is to inspire and equip businesses to drive change, it is our members who have done the work to make this happen and make a real difference to peoples’ lives.
Finally, in line with what the CMHA is all about, I encourage everyone to find time this Christmas to reach out and connect with people who might need some support. Having a simple conversation can make all the difference to someone. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.