Two women have picked up awards after using their experiences of depression to promote mental health awareness at their places of work
Jessica Carmody, 37, who works at audit and tax service giants KPMG, was recognised as an Employee Champion by mental health charity Mind at its Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards.
Emily Garnett, 29, who works at construction and infrastructure firm Morgan Sindall, also received an Employee Champion award. She was diagnosed with depression last year and also has generalised anxiety.
The awards are seen as a benchmark of best mental health policy and practice in the workplace, also providing key recommendations on ways to improve.
Londoner Jessica was diagnosed with depression in 2001, and revealed she has been experiencing symptoms for around 20 years and has been hospitalised twice in the past four years.
After experiencing unhelpful support from previous jobs, over the last two years at KMPG, Jessica has led the Be Mindful network at the firm.
She has encouraged awareness and openness by speaking out about mental health in the company. She also encouraged a focus on self-care and healthy practises like sleep, healthy eating and exercise to sustain good health overall.
Jessica said: “I felt very well supported by KPMG during these acute periods of ill health and also during recovery and remission periods when I’m managing my condition.
“The firm has an “Intelligent Working” approach which allows me to work from home one or two days a week to balance periods of intense travel and face-to-face interactions, which can make me feel very fatigued.
“I also flex my travel times to avoid the rush hour as commuting at this time can contribute to my anxiety.”
On receiving her award from the mental health charity, Jessica said: “I am surprised, thrilled and humbled to have been recognised by Mind who do such amazing work for mental health.
“I know what a difference having someone support me has made so I’ve tried to help my colleagues, telling them they’re not alone and speaking up for them by raising awareness of mental health at KPMG and sharing my own story and experiences.
“I hope this award will help me to do even more and truly embed mental health awareness and support throughout our firm.”
Jessica was nominated by Laura Swiszczowski, Inclusion and Diversity Consultant at KPMG, who praised Jessica for sharing her story to help promote mental wellbeing in the company.
She said: “In her role as head of the Be Mindful network, Jessica has been an integral part of promoting mental health within KPMG, leading fantastic workshops and events, sharing her personal story and expertise and inspiring our senior leaders to get involved.
“She has been instrumental in ensuring KPMG’s participation in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index, and has been excellent at facilitating collaboration across the Firm with key business leaders from HR, Inclusion and Diversity and KPMG’s employee networks.
“Jessica has not only been an incredible inspiration to myself and colleagues across KPMG, but has also championed mental health across national media outlets and to her wider networks. Her unwavering dedication to this on top of her day job is outstanding. Thank you Jessica.”
Equally, Emily has also been instrumental in driving awareness of mental health and initiatives in her workplace and has delivered mental health awareness training to colleagues and encouraging them to train as Mental Health First Aiders, a qualification she also holds.
The Londoner said: “I have shared my mental illness with others and this has prompted them to speak up too which has made me feel that I am not alone.
"One in four people have a mental health problem so there are many of us suffering, more than people might realise, and by opening up about my experience I believe this will continue to encourage others to do the same.”
On receiving the award, Emily continued: “I’m incredibly proud, and a little shocked, to receive the Wellbeing Lead Award. We will all experience mental illness directly or indirectly at some point in our lives, so the more we talk about it the better.”
She was nominated by her manager at Morgan Sindall, who said: “Emily is a leading voice and driving force regarding mental health and wellbeing within our organisation. She has a wonderful way of using her own personal experiences to reach out to everyone, whether a senior director or a tradesperson, she gains trust and this has resulted in her making a positive difference to people’s lives.
“Emily’s drive and commitment to breaking down mental health barriers and wellbeing has helped to get rid of a lot of the stigma that has traditionally surrounded it. It is now OK in our business to talk about our mental wellbeing, and it is also OK not to be OK. Emily is a very deserving winner of this award, and we are extremely proud to have her in our team.”
For further support on workplace wellbeing, visit Counselling Directory.
To register your interest in taking part in next year’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, click here