One in four British workers is affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress, but they can find it hard to ask for support. The challenge is to create a culture in which people feel confident that openness about mental illness won’t count against them. That’s why we created Breathe.
Our first cultural network to focus on mental health, Breathe is sponsored by James Bateson, partner and global head of financial institutions, and led by a steering group of volunteers from the London office. Already, we’ve trained and accredited over 300 mental health first-aid officers globally.
Breathe’s ultimate goal is to help us deliver on our Time to Change pledge: to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace and make sure that employees who face these problems feel supported. We want our workplace to be a safe environment for all employees and partners – one where people are able to speak up about mental health without fear.
“I am one of the co-chairs of the firm’s Breathe network, which focuses on the importance of promoting good mental health. The network is led by a diverse group of employees from fee earning and business services roles.
Breathe aims to provide help and guidance about mental health and wellbeing and also to eradicate the stigma associated with poor mental health. We do this by hosting events, including speaker events, interactive workshops and socials as well as sharing resources with our members.
As you can imagine, the recent period has resulted in fluctuating mental health and wellbeing for many people. Breathe has provided virtual support, sharing resources across Europe, Middle East and Asia.
During Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2020, we organised a series events set around the acronym SAFE (sleep, appetite/alcohol, finances and exercise). Events included an exercise class, a speaker event hosted by a sleep expert and a charity quiz.
We regularly collaborate with other employee networks as mental health cuts across everyone. We teamed up with the firm’s Family Matters network to interview the CEO of the NSPCC on how people could support child mental health during the pandemic. We are also collaborating with our Origins network on an event for Black History Month in October.
The network publishes fortnightly newsletters, circulated by our sponsor James Bateson, which provides information about our events, resources, articles, and other guidance that we hope are useful. These are circulated to all employees across EMEA and we have had incredible feedback.
My mentors and supervisors understand why these networks and causes are so important both to me and to the firm, and they’ve encouraged my involvement. Given the hours we spend at work, we want our workplace to be collaborative and diverse, and to respect its people. Our networks give us all an opportunity to create such an environment and it’s important for us to steer the firm to create an environment that allows us to be as impactful as possible in our day to day jobs”.