Personal stories are the ones that make the biggest impact, and this is never truer than when talking about mental health and wellbeing.

Initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness week have long promoted the fact that initiating a dialogue can have a tremendous effect, particularly within the workplace.

However, tackling this subject can be difficult. Employees can be left wondering whether discussing mental health with their seniors could affect their job security, perception by colleagues, and hinder their opportunities.

This is something that influential members of the C-suite are looking to change. In a landmark moment, Barclays Chief Sir Hector Sants left his position due to stress in 2013, eventually resigning a month later.

This shone the spotlight on mental health amongst senior leaders for the first time. WH Smith Chief, Steve Clark, went as far as suggesting the topic is “like being gay and a professional footballer” – essentially, taboo.

But in recent years, whilst the barrier of conversation has not quite yet broken, it is certainly easing, thanks to senior figures sharing their experiences with mental health.

Take António Horta-Osório for example. Charged with turning the fortunes of Lloyds Banking Group around in 2011, his commitment and the volume of work involved resulted in stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. By sharing his story and launching a flagship resilience programme that aims to improve wellbeing via improved nutrition, mindfulness, heart-monitoring and ongoing evaluations, António has made a significant difference to the 75,000+ staff he leads.

“Changing the corporate mindset on mental health is, I believe, the most fundamental step towards changing things for the better”

More recently, former Press Secretary to Tony Blair and 2017 Good Day at Work Conversation keynote speaker, Alistair Campbell, has opened up on his experiences with mental health.

Speaking in a new BBC TWO commission, ‘Depression And Me’, Alastair discussed how he struggled to recognise his depression from a young age, but following a breakdown in the 80’s, he decided to open up and stop hiding his battle from colleagues, which contributed to rebuilding his life.

These examples back up the research we’ve gathered over 20 years of helping organisations improve their wellbeing, which states that when people are able to have open conversations, they are twice as likely to be happy at work.

Open conversations are much more likely to occur if employees know that the topic of mental health isn’t seen as a taboo in the workplace, and these personal accounts of high profile individuals can inspire others to recognise that this isn’t a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite, as Lloyds, and many other businesses, have witnessed that senior leaders opening-up sets an example and makes difficult conversations much more approachable.

In fact, it was only two years ago that Alastair Campbell took to our stage at the Good Day at Work Conversation, to join in our effort to encourage dialogue and adoption of strategies that improve the health and wellbeing of organisations as a whole.

2019’s Good Day at Work Conversation will host another high-profile account of how damaging bad days can be, delivered by the author of the best-seller “This Is Going To Hurt”, comedian, and columnist, Adam Kay. “This Is Going To Hurt” recounts Adam’s incredible, eye-opening personal experience within this NHS, where he spent 6 years as a junior doctor, before a devastating experience forced him into reconsidering his future.

Stories such Adam’s, Alastair’s, António’s, and all those mentioned in this article, have already helped to encourage conversation, making a positive difference on both a personal and organisational level. We hope these stories will also inspire action, and put the emphasis on how organisations can help make a positive difference to the wellbeing of their staff.

For insight into how you can begin adopting a culture of wellbeing, The Good Day at Work Conversation will see influential and inspirational figures share their experiences, but will also feature practitioner sessions – where individuals responsible for the implementation of wellbeing strategies share advice and personal accounts of creating this environment.

Get more info & purchase tickets for the Good Day at Work Conversation here