Stretching the Stigma
Talent Acquisition Manager
Monday 9 September 2019
We can all agree that mental health has never been more at the forefront of conversation than it is at present. This is a very different situation to even three years ago when Prince William claimed to have been unable to secure celebrity endorsement for the launch of his mental health initiative ‘Heads Together’ (1). Prince William inadvertently linked the stigma in talking about mental health to a continuing attitude of wartime stoicism in the UK (1).
Wellbeing is defined as “The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy” (2). Within this broad definition, it is generally considered that wellbeing is comprised of multiple dimensions (anywhere between 5-12 depending on your source material). Ultimately each dimension feeds into your mental wellbeing, which is now helpfully recognised as a continuum (3). Our place on the continuum is always changing and different factors affect individuals in different ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to feeling ‘comfortable, happy and healthy’.
Employers are now focussing more on how they can support their team’s wellbeing, both inside and outside of the office (4). This is an expectation for the increasingly demanding workforce (5) and, put simply, it makes good business sense (6).
The NHS has identified five steps it believes are integral to improve and maintain wellbeing (7) and which play into the multiple dimensions of any wellbeing model;
As FinTrU strives to be an employer of choice, we place equal importance on each of these five steps. We seek to build a sense of community that motivates our team to participate and engage with aspects of the FinTrU culture that support their own wellbeing. As we recognise that no ‘one size fits all’, the team is encouraged to set up their own clubs, committees and events to ensure that we provide a diverse range of activities to our increasingly diverse workforce. FinTrU’s overarching health and wellbeing strategy is called TrU Wellness.
Even the whiff of a competition at FinTrU and you will have nearly everyone’s attention. As an organisation currently comprised in the majority of the much-maligned millennial, there is recognition of the benefit of the competitive element to wellbeing at work. Millennials are recognised as a generation who thrive on healthy competition (8) and we see this hypothesis at play regularly in FinTrU.
But how can wellbeing at work be competitive? Isn’t it all about meditation and mindfulness? Those are important elements to an overall holistic approach, however nothing gets more of the FinTrU team involved than our annual Febulous challenge (9). Throughout the month of February, individuals and teams are encouraged to get more active following the post-Christmas slump. The theme for 2019 was collaboration and it saw the competition soar to new heights – and not just a pre-work trip to the top of Cavehill! Teams came together across the month to create increasingly inventive submissions with the ultimate goal of bragging rights and a fairly healthy donation to their Deliveroo account. As with all great competitions, Febulous was not without controversy but the buzz created around all of the offices was more than worth it.
FinTrU also strives to provide staff with the opportunity to try out new activities in a supportive environment by subsidising costs. We have a proud sporting pedigree but our other clubs and committees should not be overlooked in terms of their impact on the team – whether it is the book club, language group, yoga club, walk and talk get-togethers or our grub club. Not everyone strives to be the strongest, fastest or best and there can be equal benefit in taking the time for some more mindful activities or simply getting outdoors and connecting with nature and each other.
People are not simply looking for support through generous benefits packages. The expectation is that employers will proactively assist staff (5). Whether this takes the form of workshops, training sessions, information leaflets, company-wide challenges, committees or clubs, it is important that responsible employers are providing options to their staff to suit their needs, interests and extracurricular commitments. FinTrU is taking steps in particular to normalise conversations around mental health in the workplace and to eliminate the stigma attached to them through training and education.
FinTrU was set up as a family business; a growing and diverse family who have gone on an incredible journey in the last five years. The community that has built up in that time is testament to the inclusive and encouraging attitude from the top down. FinTrU’s social purpose is to create opportunities for local talent to step onto the global stage in terms of quality and value of work that can be carried out without leaving the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is in a unique situation, with political dysfunction on an enormous scale, with no sitting government since January 2017 to review and increase funding and service provision in mental health support.
In contrast to Prince William’s struggle for an ambassador just three years ago, Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol is at the forefront of calls for a new mental health strategy for the country (10) and has been open recently about his own struggle with depression.
Until those calls are heard, it must be recognised that the onus shifts to us as managers, colleagues, peers and friends to look after each other. In an increasingly demanding and uncertain world where you spend a third of your day at work consider taking a moment to check in with those around you.
Spending the last almost two years as a Mental Health First Aider having countless conversations about mental health, I have realised that it is very hard to say the ‘wrong thing’ to someone when they are suffering or feeling low. The overwhelming feedback is that as long as your heart is in the right place everyone would rather just have someone to talk to who will listen non-judgementally and more importantly provide them with that opportunity to do so.
Never be afraid to ask someone how they are. Avoiding the subject can exacerbate the issue for the sufferer (11). They won’t expect you to have all the answers or solutions. However, you may be the first person to ask them in a way that they’ve felt comfortable enough to open up to.
Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award winning Financial Services company that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. FinTrU provides its clients with high quality, cost-effective, near-shore resourcing solutions. FinTrU’s products are: Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations and Consultancy. Its clients are all Tier 1 Investment Banks based in London, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Paris. FinTrU currently employs 360 staff at its two Belfast city centre offices and Derry/Londonderry.