Chartered Institute of Housing president Aileen Evans today launched a new guide to help housing organisations raise their game on mental health.
The guide, developed with support from the mental health charity Mind, 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, who has implemented a wide range of workplace and workforce initiatives in her role as chief executive of Grand Union Housing Group, said her decision to focus on mental health and wellbeing during her presidency of CIH was an opportunity ‘to give something back to the profession and the people that supported me in my career’.
‘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 He could be withdrawn, angry and frustrated.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 1 in 4 of us in any given year. Two men working in construction and maintenance take their own lives every day. And a report by Deloitte and Mind just last week found that 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
Mind head of workplace well-being programmes Faye McGuiness said: ‘Mind is delighted to be working with Aileen and CIH to #ShineALight on mental health in the housing sector. We hope it will help housing professionals and organisations across the country raise awareness and take action to support the mental health of 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 Mind and the work it does.’
You can access the new guide here.
Image credit: Freepik