Mentally ill workers who suffer in silence need two things:

  1. Education from institutions and management as to how to get better
  2. Empathy from those with lived experience to know they are not alone

The more balanced these two are and the more seamlessly they work, the more effective the outcome. But that’s not currently the case.

Yes, there’s a massive effort to build awareness of mental health and train staff in the hope that they can identify and help staff who may be suffering. And that’s fantastic but…

How do you identify someone who doesn’t want to be identified? You’d have a better chance of spotting a Yeti in George Street. I suffered from bipolar 1 throughout my career and no one ever noticed. I was too good an actor.

It’s empathy that encourages people to open up and actually be in a position to benefit from this exceptionally well-intentioned education. But right now, empathy seems limited to the occasional lived experience talk.

For corporate Australia to make major inroads into this issue, lived experience must play a bigger role. It has to be recognised as the valuable but largely untapped resource it is. The more effectively we can do that, the more people with issues will feel safe in seeking help.

Until that time, the majority of those who suffer will continue to keep their mouths firmly shut. I think.

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