Often the most memorable experiences are the most unexpected. I was recently sent a link to a video produced by the engineering services company, G&S Engineering. I was intrigued by the title “#HANDSUP” and so started watching with no real expectation as to what it might be about. Some 8 minutes later, I had found myself moved by the bravery of those G&S Engineering employees featured in the video who were willing to share their stories. I also found myself full of admiration for the leadership of an organisation seeking to create a culture where discussing mental health issues was not only supported but seen as helpful to share with others.
The video #HANDSUP – I Know Someone has been produced by G&S Engineering to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide. The video features a number of employees as well as local sportsmen who speak bravely and openly about how mental health issues have impacted their lives. In some cases mental health has been a very personal struggle, for others the impact of the mental health of loved ones has had tragic repercussions. In all cases, the authenticity of those who recount their stories contributes to lifting the veil of secrecy behind mental health issues, particularly within the workplace.
In a recent blog post I wrote about Remembering ‘health’ in workplace health and safety discussions. This video, and the way this employer has chosen to highlight mental health and suicide to assist others, is a courageous example of an organisation putting health issues at the forefront. Congratulations to all involved in this initiative, this is an example of exactly what health and safety leadership can look like in practice. The video has already been watched by thousands and I hope will encourage other organisations to consider the ways they might generate a culture where such discussions can safely be brought out in the open.
About the author – Dr Kirstin Ferguson
Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a professional company director sitting on ASX publicly listed, private company and government boards. Kirstin was previously the global CEO of a safety consulting organisation operating in the mining and resources industry. In 2014, the Australian Financial Review named Kirstin as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence. Kirstin has a PhD in Business focused on safety leadership and safety governance for board members and senior executives, and was awarded the QUT Colin Brain Corporate Governance Fellowship for her research contributions. Kirstin is an Adjunct Professor at the QUT Business School.