07 October 2022
Meet Rob, who has been leading the charge in prioritising mental health in our workplace since 2015. To celebrate World Mental Health Day, we sat down with Rob to hear why he is passionate about improving mental health, what we are doing to create a culture of care at BHP and why mental health in the workplace must be a priority for all business leaders.
1. Why are you so passionate about workplace mental health?
During my early medical training, my own mental health suffered and I didn’t access the support I needed at the time because stigma was still so rife – and this stigma is something I carried with me for a long time.
I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’ve experienced, so I’ve taken on a personal responsibility to eliminate the stigma and create a more open culture by sharing my own story.
2. What are your tips for managing mental health based on your lived experience?
For a long time I denied I was experiencing a mental illness, which was depression with anxiety, and when I first started to accept that something was wrong, I saw it as a weakness, rather than as an illness and so was very reluctant to talk about it or seek help. So it’s really important to see this for what it is – an illness, just like heart disease is an illness for which there is really effective treatment and to realise that to talk about it is actually showing strength, not weakness.
I’m really very fortunate and for the vast majority of the time I’m really well and I’ve found there are five things that are really important for me to stay well:
1. Identify what your values are and aim to live your life in accordance with those values. For a while early on my career, there was no such thing as flexible work and I was regularly putting work ahead of family and this was in conflict with my values and caused quite a lot of distress. BHP’s approach to flex work has been really important for me to enable me to have the time with my family when I’ve really needed to.
2. Exercise. Exercise helps me de-stress, I love the endorphin rush of intermittently exercising hard, and I often combine it with my third pillar which is social connections.
3. Social connections: Catching up with good friends to have a laugh, share fun times and also to share when things aren’t going so well or to provide support to them is so important.
4. Sleep: Sleep is my canary in the coal mine and when my sleep is starting to go off – I stop and take stock to see what may not be in balance right now and see if there are things I need to change.
5. Support network: It’s important to have your support network when things aren’t going so well. For me – mostly this is my family and friends, but importantly recognising when professional support is needed and then my first port of call is our Employee Assistance Program and on the occasion that is not enough, seeing my GP, who I have had for the past 15 years.
3. Why is workplace mental health a priority at BHP?
BHP’s journey into mental health began eight years ago when we started to ask ourselves some very challenging questions around what more we could be doing to support our employees. This was the start of a great many conversations, between people all over the organisation.
Over recent years, we have been deliberate in seeking to build a culture of care through raising awareness of the prevalence of poor mental health, the very significant personal, community and business impact it has, as well as a strong focus on removing stigma.
More recently – we have commenced work on the formal identification and management of psychosocial risks – these are the things at work that can cause stress and we need to manage these risks, just like we do physical risks. We really want to create a work environment where people can thrive.
As part of this commitment, in 2021 BHP became a Founding Partner of the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (GBC) - the first business-led alliance that aims to advocate for and accelerate positive change for mental health in the workplace worldwide.
4. Why should other organisations join the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (GBC)?
For global progress to be made, mental health in the workplace must be a priority for all business leaders. For workplaces to thrive, they must be equipped with the right tools and information, and commit to taking tangible and evidence-based action on mental health and wellbeing.
By joining a global community of business leaders who are committed to prioritising workplace mental health in their own organisations, we can draw on our collective insights and good practice that will accelerate positive action on mental health at work, and to support workplaces in becoming altogether healthier places.
If you’d like to learn more about the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health, we invite you to attend their World Mental Health Day event, which will be chaired by Dr Rob McDonald. GBC World Mental Health Day event
Join BHP and the 100 leaders who have already signed up in creating a global movement for positive action on workplace mental health. The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (betterworkplacemh.com)