The City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) is a coalition of organisations that have come together to create an environment in businesses across the world where mental health is treated the same way as physical health. Championed by senior business leaders, the CMHA is business led, expert guided and aims to create a culture of good mental health for workers, to share best practice and increase mental health understanding. Our focus is on enabling the workplace to be a part of the solution to preventing mental ill-health and improving peoples’ mental wellbeing.

Creating a benchmark for best practice

In the last year alone, we made great strides in helping businesses become mentally healthy workplaces. In 2018, we started the year training senior leaders in mental health first aid skills. We went on to form a working group with our member organisations to discuss the practical implications of Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer’s independent review of mental health and employers. Together, out of this group, we created the CMHA Thriving at Work Guide, a unique toolkit to help businesses become mentally healthy workplaces. The Guide is now being recognized around the world as a structured, practical approach to building a strong mental health strategy at work.

It has been wonderful to see the progress being made by our members to create a culture of openness in the workplace, free from mental health stigma. Our members ended 2018 by assessing and benchmarking themselves against the CMHA Thriving at Work Guide to understand where improvements in their businesses can be made. The progress we have seen – from taking a policy document to creating a practical guide and then an assessment tool – is a fantastic change programme taking place collaboratively across our membership.

Ensuring all voices are heard

Through all our work we strive to inspire business leaders to open the door for change in their organisations and equip our members with the skills and tools they need to make these changes. At a leadership level, we have helped to make mental health a boardroom issue. In addition, to ensure all voices are heard, we have engaged with those early in their careers. In November 2018, we launched the Thriving from the Start Network, a new mental health community where people starting their careers in the City can come together to talk openly about mental health at work, share ideas and feedback insights to City business leaders.

Our efforts haven’t just been in the UK. CMHA Hong Kong has developed its own evidence-based workplace mental health training which is now being offered to Hong Kong members. As a result, the momentum in Hong Kong is building and our membership there is growing. As we look ahead, we look forward to growing our presence globally. We also plan to strengthen our UK strategy, to ensure the work we are doing in London can support our members across the whole of the UK.

Talking openly about mental health

Perhaps one of the most telling signs that progress is being made, is that when we first set out six years ago, we couldn’t find a single person willing to tell their story. In 2018 however, we have made significant progress with senior business leaders talking more openly about their experience of mental health. For us, this is one of the most powerful ways to create a culture of openness and elicit change.

Twitter: @City_MHA