Mental health is everyone's business

Momentum is building on an issue that will dominate the headlines for years to come.

Deep in the heart of Manchester's Spinningfields a group of business, charity and council leaders came together on World Mental Health Day with one aim in mind: to fire the starting gun on a collaboration that could have far reaching consequences for the future.

PwC and Barclays' This is Me campaign has already generated hundreds of online stories in an effort to normalise the conversation. Senior leaders across the business community have started to galvanise individuals to share, disclose and get help for challenges they are facing.

But this is just the start.

Organisations know the mental health conversation isn't going away. They know it's costing them money, in some cases lives, and supporting the people they employ is a minimum. They are being asked to support psychologically safe places to work - and address workplace culture like never before.

The stakes are high - but doing nothing isn't an option.

For the likes of Sellafield, United Utilities, The Co-op, Manchester Airports Group, Brother, PZ Cussons, Arup, Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Masons, Manchester City Council, TFGM and Manchester Mind there is a wealth of collective experience and material that will support the cause. There is awareness raising, a spectrum of training from mental health first aid to personal resilience and communication, and experience from bigger companies and start-ups - such as Team Mental Health - can be shared for the benefit of the SME community as well.

This is Manchester and the North West at its best - a group effort to take things forward.

The conversation needs to be connected across organisations - because we are dealing with such a big topic - and businesses are in the early stages of navigating how best to approach the issue. From the community-based focus of Manchester Mind and Manchester City Council, and the forthcoming health and wellbeing charter from the mayor's office - anything the private sector does can build on the structures of civic support.

We spend a lot of time at work; it gives us much of the support that enable our lives, and the forward thinking businesses get this. They are creating communities of people who feel they can show up (or not) and be honest about what's going on. There is also a fantastic opportunity to be positive about mental health: to normalise the conversation, celebrate initiatives and give confidence to help people open up, find a way forward and get the help they need.

In this way, mental health can be looked at from the top to the bottom, and from the left to the right - we can all get to grips with the balance of how a society-wide challenge is being exacerbated or supported by the workplace. Good mental health at work exists in the context of a much bigger picture...

...A picture which is changing for the better.