Words by: Alessandra Brugola
Mental health is a crucial topic. Many have been the campaigns and appeals launched by wonderful organisations aimed at changing the conversations about mental health.
Whilst all of us would be proud to shout out loud our support to this worthwhile cause, how many of us, though, would have the gut to turn up at work saying those very scary words: "I have a mental health problem".
Mental health issues are experienced by 1 in 4 of us every single year. The most common forms are anxiety and depression, but the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing. Eating disorders, phobias and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorders) are serious illness and extremely common. Mental health is no different from physical health, but we hardly talk about it. Why?
Understandably shame has an important role; we are ashamed to share these intimate details of our life with our friends, family, let alone co-workers. Especially at work none of us wishes to be stigmatised, isolated or, in worst cases, many of us might fear to face repercussions on career prospects.
Notwithstanding the stigma isn't erased yet, the conversation has finally started and it is gradually breaking down the stigma and the fear of talking about mental health.
As a matter of fact, in the past 18 months here at The Benevolent, the Drinks Industry Charity, we have experienced an unprecedented number of requests of help regarding mental health issues coming from each sector of the industry. It is regarded, unfortunately, that the drinks industry can really be a tough environment. Long hours, lack of sleep, stress, money worries and the easy access to alcohol can combine a real damage to our health; not only physical but also mental.
As a consequence of this, last year The Benevolent team took the decision to launch a free confidential helpline for anyone who needed to talk to a professional counsellor. This helpline was a real game-changer. However, we knew that still wasn't enough.
Anecdotally we have been informed that many colleagues facing difficulties are seeking help on social media, sharing their personal issues on virtual platforms rather than with their GP or their employer. That was the moment when we realised that it was the time to talk to our industry, the industry we love and that supports us so generously, about how we can be there with you and for you, because you are #NotAlone anymore.
For this reason The Benevolent has launched its new mental health awareness campaign #NotAlone. The campaign aims at creating a stigma-free conversation about mental health in the workplace. Here at The Benevolent we care about you and your wellbeing, and starting talking to someone is the first step to recovery. Thus we are fully committed to take the stigma down, because there is no shame in experiencing mental health difficulties.
The Benevolent has decided to be part of a social movement aimed at having stigma-free conversations about mental health. We also would like to have a better understanding of the difficulties faced by our colleagues in the industry. For this reason, we have launched a survey about mental health aimed to outline which are the mental health difficulties experienced in the Trade and what HR practices are there in place to help you.
Allow us to urge you all to spare a few minutes to complete the survey following this link and share this with your colleagues in the trade surveys.wineintelligence.com/survey/selfserve/19b7/171205
We know it takes a huge effort to grin and bear it, but you are #NotAlone anymore. If you need to speak to a professional counsellor on our helpline please call 0800 915 4610 or visit our website TheBenevolent.org.uk.