How the property industry is fighting the stigma of mental illness & promoting positive mental health
As part of the GRESB Health and Wellbeing Week, Howard Morgan explains an important new initiative in the UK property industry.
Would you tell your boss if you’ve got a sporting injury? You probably would……but would you tell them if you were struggling with anxiety or depression? It’s less likely.
In the UK, suicide is now the largest single cause of death of men under the age of 45, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem each year. Poor mental health is one of the biggest reasons for absenteeism and billions are lost to the economy every year through stress-related illnesses. When we think of health and wellbeing, I believe that mental health should at the forefront.
The John O’Halloran Initiative was founded in 2016 in memory of John O’Halloran, the retired former MD of airport property company, BAA Lynton, who took his own life in March 2015 at the age of 63 after secretly battling depression for many years.
The Initiative comprises a series of educational events, access to advice on best practice and also specialist counselling.
This year’s flagship event held in May, The John O’Halloran Mental Health Symposium, attracted over 200 people from across the UK property industry. One of the highlights was the launch of a moving video by John’s son, Rob O’Halloran, in which he explains why it is so important that we change attitudes to mental illness.
You can watch the video here.
John’s death came as a huge shock to me as well as to many of his former colleagues, family members and friends. But sadly, as I have since found out, John’s story is all too common and a reminder of how important it is for business leaders to encourage people to talk about their mental health. I hope that one day, people will feel as comfortable talking about their mental health as they would about their physical health.
One of the most important elements of the Initiative is encouraging businesses to get involved in the ‘Time to Change’ pledge, a programme to end mental health discrimination in the workplace. You can find more information at www.time-to-change.org.uk
The John O’Halloran’ Initiative is being enabled by Lionheart, a charity which, among other things, offers mental health support and counselling to RICS professionals around the world. If you’d like to find out more about what they do or to access information about mental health, visit their website – www.lionheart.org.uk.
This is just the start of the Initiative and it’s been incredibly uplifting to receive such positive feedback from major companies like CBRE and JLL about the impact so far.
I would be fascinated to hear about any similar initiatives with which GRESB members are involved and also delighted to share our lessons with industry colleagues around the world.
If you’d like to find out more about the John O’Halloran Initiative please contact.
+44 7801 628554
or visit the John O’Halloran Initiative website at www.lionheart.org.uk/john-o-halloran