The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Making Mental Health and Well-Being for All a Global Priority”. This is an ever more important consideration for employers when looking to both hire and retain strong talent in their businesses. Now we’ve all known someone who doesn’t “believe in” mental health, dubbing the likes of depression and anxiety as fiction. This dismissive attitude towards those suffering with such burdens is narrowing the hiring pool for certain businesses, denying them the opportunity to secure intelligent, creative and hardworking professionals. A commitment to set out policies and procedures which take into account the mental health of ALL staff, will result in a more effective and loyal workforce. In turn this approach will enable you to build diverse teams which are representative of the market(s) they serve.
An anonymous member of the Curo team had this to say:
“As a young teenager, I lived my life in a fearless manner, nothing would ever make me nervous, be it exams or performing piano in front of the entire school. I always saw other people around me say they were hugely anxious when they had to do similar things, I never really understood what nerves were or why they would be afraid. In my late teens I was hit by a crippling anxiety disorder and, for a period, I became too afraid to even leave the house. I was convinced this would drastically impact my career and that I would be unemployable.
The biggest step for me, was simply being upfront and honest about this with potential employers. I was convinced that upon hearing this honesty, employers would either cancel my interviews or simply reject me post-interview for a made up reason. It was during this period that I actually found out that the majority of people are extremely understanding. I remember when I interviewed at Curo, it was set in a much more causal place to make me feel at ease, and the interviewers made it clear I could step out for some air at any time. This allowed me to perform at my best.
Throughout my career, there have been huge mental challenges to overcome. However, due to my honesty about my mental illness, I have received plenty of support from all of my colleagues. In my first ever job, the Managing Director would personally accompany me to client meetings to make me feel at ease, telling me stories about crazy mistakes he had made in his first meetings. While working for Curo, I am now doing things I never believed I would do. I am able to deliver presentations in front of entire teams and have even been recorded for a company video!
I can categorically say, if my colleagues had been less understanding, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the things I have. By just showing understanding and offering help to people who are mentally struggling, you can have such a huge impact and help them do things they thought would simply be unachievable.”
Our advice to employers: Spend some time reflecting on whether this person would make it through the hiring process at your organization. Would they have got the job? Would they feel comfortable in one of your teams? Now consider the fact that everyone goes through periods in their lives where they require this support in order to remain productive. Are you missing a trick here? Could you be missing out on hiring great talent?