Workplace pressure contributes to mental health issues for the majority of business leaders, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD). We asked unLTD contributors what business leaders can do to address the problem – for their staff and their themselves

As Junior Chamber International UK’s National President (JCI UK), one of my key aims is to empower our members. A not-for-profit network for young professionals, JCI’s mission is to provide development opportunities to create positive change and this year JCI UK is prioritising the importance of mental health and wellbeing.

It’s vital that our organisation helps its members grapple with internal negative voices, self-beliefs or feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions that so many young people face. If you’re struggling with your mental wellbeing, it can be a real challenge to get out of bed or decide what to eat every morning – never mind pitching for new business or feeling confident enough to attend networking events which are all things people in business can often take for granted.

It’s easy to say, ‘Just be positive,’ but it can be incredibly difficult when you compare yourself with other people, especially people who seem so naturally confident in life. It reminds me of my favourite analogy: the swan glides gracefully over the pond, yet no one sees it frantically paddling underneath the water.

Throughout my life, I have often doubted my abilities and been my own worst critic. Yet, through the support, encouragement, mentoring and learning I’ve gained from others – particularly through my involvement with JCI – I finally believe in myself.

Last month JCI UK hosted a conference focused on breaking down the negative stigmas that are still – unfortunately – attached to mental health. Held at the Central Fire Station, ‘Mindful Matters: Step Up Your Mental Health Awareness’ featured insightful talks from business stakeholders in the region, including representatives from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Westfield Health.

While reading the event feedback, one response particularly resonated with me. When asked, ‘What key thing did you learn at today’s conference,’ they had succinctly yet emphatically answered: ‘Knowing that people are willing to listen.’

From a business owner’s perspective, investing in your employees is the best investment you can make. By developing an open and supportive culture in the workplace, you’ll have an empowered and productive workforce.

Mental health in the workplace is an ongoing and constantly evolving discussion. However, if companies are willing to listen to employees and be proactive rather than reactive, we’re on the right track.

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