Chartered Institute of Housing president Aileen Evans today (20th February) launched a new guide to help housing organisations raise their game on mental health.
The guide, launched to coincide with the CIH Ireland housing awards at the Titanic in Belfast, sets out six things we can all do to make everyone who works in housing more aware and supportive of other people’s mental health issues, and better supported to look after their own.
Aileen said: ‘As housing professionals, we need to equip ourselves to be mental-health aware, because if we are unwell – if we can’t bring compassion into what we do – then we can risk failing people from whom everyone else may have already walked away,’ she said.
‘People look to us for a home. We can’t walk away from our responsibility. My campaign is called Shine a Light, because that’s what I want to do – shine a light on mental health in housing. Because if we can’t talk about a problem, we can’t be part of the solution.
‘Raising awareness, talking about mental health, has made a big difference in my organisation. And it will do the same in yours.’
Aileen’s father had a depressive illness, and her husband has struggled with mental health problems, and she said that had shown her how mental health affects whole families.
‘My dad was a lovely, kind, thoughtful and often very funny man but he could never talk about his feelings. He could be withdrawn, angry and frustrated. As children we never knew which Dad we were going home to.’
Poor mental health affects one in four of us in any given year. Two men working in construction and maintenance take their own lives every day, and poor mental health among young people is at epidemic levels.
The guide gives housing organisations helpful advice on how to:
- Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity
- Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes
- Promote an open culture around mental health
- Increase organisational confidence and capability
- Provide mental health tools and support
- Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
As well as raising awareness, Aileen will also be using her presidency to raise money for mental health charities. In Northern Ireland, that money will go to AWARE.
Lisa Abell-Farrelly, corporate relationship officer at AWARE Northern Ireland: ‘AWARE is delighted to be working with Aileen and CIH on this fantastic initiative to #ShineALight on mental health within the housing sector. We hope it will help housing professionals and organisations across the country to raise awareness and take action to support the mental health of their staff.’
CIH chief executive Gavin Smart said: ‘As housing professionals and as organisations we can all do more to support our own and others’ mental well-being. There are some great examples of innovative good practice already in the sector, and I hope Aileen’s campaign and this guide will inspire us all to do more.
‘CIH is proud to support Shine a Light and we will be working hard to encourage our members and the wider profession to raise awareness of mental health issues, to raise our game in responding to them and to raise money for AWARE NI and the work it does.’
*** Image credit: Freepik