To mark Men’s Health Week (14 to 20 June 2021), Add | Wellbeing Clinical Specialist Angela Bagum met with Geoff McDonald, former Global Vice President for Unilever and leader at Minds @ Work, to discuss the importance of prioritising mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. 

Now a tireless campaigner for mental health in the workplace through the charity Minds@Work, Geoff McDonald brings a unique perspective to the discussion – drawing on his own experience of senior leadership in a global organisation, and his personal experience of mental ill health. Learning from lived experience is central to Geoff’s work, and to ours at Add | Wellbeing.

So, what can organisations do to support male employees struggling with their mental health? Geoff and Angela identify the key issues:

  1. Education: what is stress? What is depression? Increasing awareness of these issues can lead to greater acceptance and empathy in the workplace.
  2. Campaigning: organisations are well placed to run internal campaigns to create a positive mental health culture.
  3. Storytelling: employers should encourage men to share their stories and help to normalise conversations about mental health.

Geoff also feels that Covid has “democratised mental ill health”, with the pressures of the pandemic creating an environment where employees can support each other and talk more openly about the mental health strains so many of us have experienced in 2020-21. 

Finally, Geoff says that mental health support should be a strategic priority for employers, as it plays a vital role in protecting the health of the workforce and enhancing performance. He closes with a quote from Charlie Mackesy: “Asking for help is not giving up, it’s refusing to give up.”