Last week I wrote about The Virgin Banker, the first book by Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia. As well as changing the face of women in finance, one of the key themes of the book is mental health, something that is sometimes overlooked but has a profound impact upon all of our lives.
Jayne-Anne explains how she has lived with mental health issues for periods of her life. She highlights the need for the financial industry, and business in general, to develop an openness to discuss and to deal with the mental issues that affect many of us as human beings.
I agree with Jayne-Anne’s view that none of us can get through mental health difficulties without being willing to have a conversation and being able to admit that we might need some help. Fear of judgement, stigma, and outdated prejudice meant that too many people stay quiet about their mental health challenges.
Jayne-Anne has never told this part of her story before. Stress and depression tend not to feature as conversation topics at City dinners nor on anyone’s CV. I’m proud that she’s chosen to speak out. But mental health issues are real and we must do all we can to support people who may be suffering.
I’m proud of the work Virgin Money are doing in this space. Virgin Money chose Heads Together, which aims to de-stigmatise mental health issues in all walks of life, as the London Marathon Charity of the Year and all the proceeds of Jayne-Anne’s book will go to them.
At Virgin Management, we are leading a Group-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, including a focus on mental health. We also use the Virgin Pulse wellbeing platform and have instigated a weekly digital detox to encourage our staff not to become digitally overwhelmed in their roles and to instead focus on their wider wellbeing.