Our Chief Executive and Chartered Institute of Housing president, Aileen Evans has launched a new guide to help housing organisations raise their game on mental health.
Aileen, who has already implemented a wide range of workplace and workforce initiatives at Grand Union, said her decision to focus on mental health and wellbeing during her presidency of CIH was an opportunity “to give something back to the profession and the people that supported me in my career.”
She added: “As housing professionals, we need to equip ourselves to be mental-health aware, because if we are unwell – if we can’t bring compassion into what we do – then we can risk failing people from whom everyone else may have already walked away.
“People look to us for a home. We can’t walk away from our responsibility. My campaign is called Shine a Light, because that’s what I want to do – shine a light on mental health in housing. Because if we can’t talk about a problem, we can’t be part of the solution.
“Raising awareness – talking about mental health – has made a big difference in my organisation – and it will do the same in yours.”
Aileen’s father had a depressive illness, and her husband has struggled with mental health problems, and she said that had shown her how mental health affects whole families.
“My dad was a lovely, kind, thoughtful and often very funny man but he could never talk about his feelings. He could be withdrawn, angry and frustrated. As children we never knew which Dad we were going home to.”
Poor mental health affects one in four of us in any given year. Two men working in construction and maintenance take their own lives every day. And a recent report by Deloitte and MIND found that poor mental health among young people is at epidemic levels.
The guide, developed with support from the mental health charity MIND, sets out six things we can all do to make everyone who works in housing more aware and supportive of other people’s mental health issues – and better supported to look after their own.
- Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity
- Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes
- Promote an open culture around mental health
- Increase organisational confidence and capability
- Provide mental health tools and support
- Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
MIND’s Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes, Faye McGuiness, said:
“MIND is delighted to be working with Aileen and CIH to #ShineaLight on mental health in the housing sector. We hope it will help housing professionals and organisations across the country raise awareness and take action to support the mental health of staff.”