The Workplace, Women and Mental Health: It’s Time to Speak Up
By Jennifer DaSilva of Berlin Cameron
Sometimes you know a colleague is going through a hard time but you’re not sure what to say or do about it. This pattern of inaction needs to end now. October may be Mental Health Month but the time for us as employers, leaders and people to recognize and support those living with mental health concerns must become year-round, especially with fellow women in the workplace.
This is important now more than ever because the numbers surrounding the topic are staggering. According to recent research conducted by Kantar Health, Lightspeed and Berlin Cameron, almost half of women believe that work is a contributing factor to their mental health and wellness. Furthermore, women who work full-time are 25% more likely to experience anxiety and 38% more likely to experience depression.
These results are disturbing and one of the biggest areas of concern is that we feel totally alone in all of this. Despite the data above, 87 percent of women believe that mental health is their sole responsibility and only one in three women have offered to help another colleague with a mental health issue.
It’s not shocking when you stop to consider that it’s become customary to answer the question, “How are you doing today?” with a quick “fine,” regardless of how you may be feeling. If people were able to dig a little deeper and were more willing to be vulnerable and engaged in these daily interactions, we may start to finally feel more supported and heard in the workplace.
Making that jump towards vulnerability may seem difficult but it is imperative that we become more comfortable talking to each other about mental health and, as with many other issues in the workplace today, we should look to the younger generation. According to the same research, women aged 18–24 are most likely to help others with a mental health issue — and the likelihood decreases as we get older.
It is also up to employers to have a more open dialogue about mental health and offer real, constructive, supportive services to those facing a challenge. In the advertising agency world, employers are particularly bad at recognizing and helping individuals, and that rings true across all industries.
Thankfully, there are some employers that are taking positive steps. Banking giant, Barclays, launched This Is Me, a program designed to break the stigma of silence surrounding mental health by encouraging employees to share their own stories. At American Express, the Healthy Minds initiative means that counselors are available daily at each of the company’s 20 employee’s clinics around the globe.
Sometimes small steps can lead to a bigger impact, from asking a stressed out colleague how their day is to taking a colleague dealing with a family issue to coffee. Or perhaps, if you’re in a leadership role, you can host a lunch-and-learn about mental health and how to talk about it, or make sure your team members are taking mental health days when they need to. It is also worth seeking out events around mental health. For example, Berlin Cameron recently held an event for women and mental health called #FindingHerBalance. This event brought together speakers including Amber Rae, author of Wonder over Worry, Carley Roney, founder of The Knot, and Essence Magazine senior editor Charreah Jackson, we were able to allow leaders to tell their own personal stories around mental wellness, something we need to hear more of from leaders across the board.
Only with open dialogue and an open mind will positive change and a healthier workplace come to fruition.
About The Author
Jennifer DaSilva is a seasoned integrated marketer with nearly 20 years of experience working on Fortune 500 brands. As president of creative agency Berlin Cameron, Jennifer has spent the last 13 years managing key accounts like Coca-Cola, Heineken Premium Light, Lexus and Capital One. Jen is a champion of entrepreneurship, having launched Girl Brands Do It Better, a Berlin Cameron division that empowers female entrepreneurs through connections and creativity. In 2018, she was named a DMN Woman to Watch. She sits on the advisory boards of Girl Up, a United Nations foundation, the National Kidney Foundation, and the WPP Business Development and Digital Advisory boards. She graduated with honors from Boston College and lives in New York with her husband and 2 active sons.