Two women talking at work

Mental health issues shouldn’t be a barrier to success

On 21 October 2019, National Grid signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment. Here, Rachael Davidson, General Counsel National Grid Ventures, explains how her own experience with depression made her passionate about championing this commitment and its goal to help those dealing with mental health issues continue to thrive at work.

Rachel Davidson


If you look around you at work, at your team, your boss and your colleagues, the chances are that at least one of them is struggling, or has struggled, with their mental health. It’s inevitable as one in four people is affected with mental health issues in their life – and I’m one of them. It’s a hard thing to admit, but I’ve struggled with depression since having my children and experienced plenty of dark days over the years.  

During my career, I’ve felt I had to hide my depression. It can be hard when you have a responsible role to admit that some days just getting out of bed and in to work takes all your energy, but it’s time for me to be open about it. I’m a very logical, practical person and I’m sure that some people will be surprised to discover I have depression, but it can affect anyone, in any walk of life.

Opening up about mental health

I have a great career, two wonderful children and a supportive husband and sometimes that makes me feel guilty, as if people will think: ‘What do you have to be depressed about?’. But it doesn’t work like that. Anyone can put on a good front and unless you talk about it no one will ever know how you’re feeling inside. I want be open about my own mental health to show that, with the right support, it won’t hold you back in your career.

Anyone can put on a good front and unless you talk about it no one will ever know how you’re feeling inside.

I’m passionate about promoting mental wellbeing at National Grid because it’s critical to provide a safe and healthy workplace where people feel able to talk about their mental health and ask for help if they need it. That’s why we’re signing up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment today.

The price of poor mental health

In the last 12 months, 300,000 people have lost their jobs due to mental health problems. This cost the economy £99 billion, employers £42 billion and more importantly it cost those affected – and their families – their security and peace of mind. Yet 49% say they still don’t feel comfortable talking to their line manager about their mental health – and that needs to change.

39% of employees surveyed said that work had contributed to their mental health issue over the last 12 months
Business in the Community 2019 Mental Health at Work YouGov survey

The Mental Health at Work Commitment sets out to shift how all employers prioritise mental wellbeing at work by asking them to adhere to these six key standards:

  1. Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity.
  2. Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes.
  3. Promote an open culture around mental health.
  4. Increase organisational confidence and capability.
  5. Provide mental health tools and support.
  6. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting.

National Grid already works hard to support its employees. We have a dedicated Health and Wellbeing team, offer mental health support and training to managers and their teams and an employee helpline. But in a fast-changing energy industry where we are transitioning to greener, cleaner renewable energy sources, we understand the importance of continuing to support all our people.

A healthy work place can help to heal

Beyond our commitment to our own people, we’re  publicly supporting this initiative to encourage all employers – large and small – to take mental health seriously. Making mental health a priority is good for everyone because, with the right support, people can experience poor mental health, or live with an ongoing mental health condition, and still thrive and succeed at work.

For me, work even offered a way to help me heal. When I had postnatal depression, my therapist encouraged me to return to work and that helped me to get better. A workplace that allows you to bring your whole self to work, even if that means admitting you’re anxious or depressed, can allow you to find a purpose in your life even at your lowest moments.

For more information and to sign up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment visit the Mental Health at Work website.

 

If you're concerned about your mental health speak to your doctor to get advice. The Samaritans operate a 24/7 free helpline on 116 123 or you can email [email protected] 

National Grid employees can call the Health and Wellbeing helpline on 0845 094 8107 for confidential advice and support.