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Diversity Speaker Series: Mental Health in the Workplace

January 22, 2018

On January 18, 2018, Covington's Diversity Committee in London hosted a panel event on "Mental Health in the Workplace." The panel was comprised of Charles Walker OBE (UK Member of Parliament), Isabella Goldie (Director of Development and Delivery of the Mental Health Foundation) and Samantha Brown, (partner, Herbert Smith Freehills and co-chair of Herbert Smith Freehill's Ability Network), and was moderated by Covington partner Louise Nash (also a member of the firm's Management Committee). 

Topics discussed included: 

  • each panellist's personal insights and experiences related to mental health and their route to championing issues related to mental health;
  • why only recently does it appear that mental health issues have attracted such attention in the mainstream media;
  • the need to remove the stigma associated with mental health illnesses in the workplace;
  • why tackling mental health illnesses is so important for organizations, not just for the health of their employees but also for the commercial success of the organization;
  • recognizing that everyone in an organization is susceptible to mental health issues and it is important for all employees to have the same support; and
  • what organizations should be doing to improve support for mental health illnesses in the workplace, and creating a culture of openness and inclusion.

Discussions amongst the panellists were extremely engaging and frank on this important topic. All panellists had powerful stories and experiences to share regarding their personal connections to or battles with mental health, as well as in relation to campaigning for greater awareness in the workplace. Charles Walker, who suffers from OCD, discussed what it was like to open up about his condition publicly during a speech in the UK Parliament and how he hopes to raise awareness and drive policy in this area. Sam Brown related how her experience of a mental health breakdown at work has shaped her views and her determination to raise awareness of these issues in the workplace. She also discussed the need to be self-aware of the stress and anxiety our jobs can have on us and not let those same anxieties pass down to those with whom we work. Isabella Goldie spoke in depth about how organizations need to ensure they are creating the right culture when it comes to mental health and the possible ways in which organizations can do this.

Mental health in the workplace



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