Legal & General has today launched a campaign to use sport to raise awareness, educate, and encourage action around reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace.
Working with sporting personalities who are also mental health advocates such as rugby union referee Nigel Owens, Team GB Gold medal-winning hockey players Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh and former Premier League footballer Clarke Carlisle, Legal & General’s campaign encourages employees and employers to think that “talking about mental health is not a red card offence”.
Research by Legal & General has shown that only 4% of employees who have experienced depression and 5% who have experienced anxiety feel able to talk to their manager or superior about it, yet a huge 78% of employers believed their employees to be comfortable discussing such problems at work.
Legal & General’s “Not a Red Card Offence”, launched to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, will feature short films that showcase the importance of creating an environment in the workplace that encourages open discussion and understanding about mental health. Using the connection to the values and camaraderie in sport, the films focus on the necessity of conversations between employees and employers, which often fail to happen due to stigma, fear or lack of education and understanding on the issue.
Nigel Owens, rugby referee, said: “It’s important for me that people don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if they experience a mental health issue. It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact accepting it and talking about it, is a sign of great strength. And when you do start talking to people you often find others who are talking about it or have experienced something similar, and you realise it’s quite common. I didn’t think twice about supporting this campaign.”
The campaign aims to go beyond social media by launching a dedicated microsite www.legalandgeneral.com/notaredcard, which provides resources, key information and additional content from the sports personalities taking part. Legal & General is working with expert organisations, such as MIND, CLASP and City Mental Health Alliance, linking information on the site to services available to employees and employers alike.
Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for advisers to approach all their business clients from large corporates to SMEs and discuss what support networks, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, they have for staff who suffer from mental health issues. Just 26% of employers we surveyed did not have one in place, despite mental health issues being the top cause of claims on Legal & General’s Group Income Protection policies since 1999 and accounting for 33% of new claims in 2016.
Legal & General has recently launched its Mental Health First Aiders programme and will be launching line manager Computer Based Training during Mental Health Awareness Week. In 2013 Legal & General signed the pledge with Time to Change, a major anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief. These two new initiatives are part of their continued commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees.
Nigel Wilson, CEO, Legal & General, said: “The importance of encouraging people to be open about mental health issues and tackling the stigma attached with discussing them cannot be understated. This new campaign aims to help employees who may be suffering from mental health issues feel confident enough to approach their manager or a colleague for support, and to provide employers with guidance around how to spot the signs of an issue and so help that individual address it.
“Legal & General is 100% committed to focusing on mental health as part of our health and wellbeing programme. Making positive changes to improve our mental and physical health is something we are passionate about. I am grateful to the many sports personalities who are supporting our campaign to help raise awareness of this and particularly to those who are sharing their own experiences of mental health issues. Throughout our campaign we will hear more inspirational stories, as well as what we at Legal & General are doing to continue to support our employees’ mental wellbeing.”