Hi, I’m Gavin Elliott, Head of Interaction Design at DWP Digital.
Today is World Mental Health Day. It gives people an opportunity to talk about the work they’re doing on mental health issues. It also provides time to discuss making mental health care a reality.
This year’s theme is mental health in the workplace and in DWP Digital we want to ensure we create a supportive environment. Mental health issues have been shown to increase employee absenteeism and lower rates of productivity. So looking after our colleagues is our number one priority and something we’re passionate about addressing. We want to take mental health out of the shadows in the work place so that our people have the help and the tools they need to increase their mental wellbeing.
Therefore it’s important to raise the awareness of mental health challenges. There is still a stigma towards discussing mental health which we need to break down to make us all better. This year’s theme is pertinent to the work I’ve been doing in recent months.
I’ve been travelling around the country giving a talk on impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. It has a huge effect on a person’s mental wellbeing in the workplace.
My talk goes through many of the traits of impostor syndrome like; difficulty accepting praise, discounting your own success, being an over-worker, having to be the best and avoiding showing confidence.
It took me most of my life to recognise having impostor syndrome. Once I did, it took a lot less time to start combatting it.
Geek Mental Help: Newcastle
Last week the first Geek Mental Help event in Newcastle took place. As a concept, Geek Mental Help week has been running for the past 5 years in other cities around the world. This year I thought it would be a good time to have our own in Newcastle.
The audience was bigger and far more diverse than I’d anticipated. But that’s a good thing, it means that being open about the subject is having an effect. People are willing to listen and share their own experiences.
Tom Walker and Kelly Lothbrook-Smith from the BBC Design team shared their stories. Tom spoke about setting up a mental health support group. Kelly talked about her own experiences surrounding her own mental health.
Craig Abbott an interaction designer who works in our Newcastle hub shared a personal story of his own.
Breaking the taboo
Our department is large and diverse and we’re on a journey towards removing the taboo around mental health in our workplace. In DWP Digital we’re proud to celebrate World Mental Health Day and use it as an opportunity to get people talking. The more conversations we have about mental health, the easier we can break down the stigma that surrounds it.
I’d urge people to remember that the image you portray is often not you. And so the person you see is often not them – especially in the workplace. Empathy is the key to understanding others. Let’s all make a commitment to build awareness, and reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues. So if there’s just one thing I suggest that everyone does today, it’s to sign the Mentally Healthy Workplace Pledge.
Find out more about World Mental Health Day.