Mental health campaign focuses on organisations over individuals

| October 10, 2019

A lot of mental health campaigns focus on how individuals are coping, but not many look at the important role organisations can play in mental health, particularly in combatting mental health stigma.

A focus on what organisations can do for mental health is the centrepiece of a new mental health campaign being launched this October called #StampedeStigma.

The emphasis on organisations attracted TV personality, Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann, of TV comedy Utopia and The Project, to become the ambassador of the campaign.

‘Anyone who’s watched Utopia will know that workplaces and organisations can be stressful places to be at times. But if done right, they can be incredibly helpful.

‘If we think about the football environment, there’ve been some mental health challenges exposed there recently, but also great support from the football community,’ said Lehmann.

Having worked with the ADF around PTSD and co-hosted the Invictus Games for the ABC, taking the stigma out of mental health is something close to Lehmann’s heart. At the Invictus Games he was struck by something Prince Harry said:

‘”We all have mental health; just as we all have physical health and we need to look after it.” And sometimes looking after mental health is a broader responsibility,’ said Lehmann.

‘What the Stampede Stigma campaign is saying is let’s check with individuals to see how they’re going, but let’s also see what type of environment we have and how that might impact mental health. As an organisation, let’s do a mental health audit.’

Ms Gleeson has a living experience of mental illness, first identified when aged 11 and exacerbated while a CFA volunteer fighting fires on Black Saturday. Ms Gleeson’s mental illness is a result of multiple and exceptionally traumatic experiences, manifested as OCD and generalised anxiety.

‘Throughout my journey with my mental illness, I’ve experienced stigma on a daily basis. It’s reduced my ability to reach out and engage with my family, friends and community and caused me to shut myself off at times and limit my access to services,’ said Ms Gleeson.

‘But I’ve also received strong support from work colleagues and employers. It’s important to have the right environment and the right support.’

Iain Yuile of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) says good mental health practice is not only good for people, it makes economic sense too. According to a report conducted by PWC in 2014, each year mental health absenteeism costs the economy $4.6bn, with $6.4bn lost in productivity.

Elizabeth Crowther, CEO of Wellways, suggests that a focus on organisations is critical to improving mental health outcomes and tackling mental health stigma.

‘While almost 1 in 2 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, unfortunately 3 in 4 will experience discrimination and stigma as a result.

‘If someone has a broken leg, they’re not stigmatised. We want mental and physical health to be treated in the same way,’ said Ms Crowther.

‘The #StapmedeStigma campaign is asking business, community, and political leaders this October to “join the stampede” and help stamp out mental health stigma.

‘They can do that by visiting or by contacting Wellways for guidance. We offer courses and resources for those wanting to make that positive change.’