Christmas is coming, and around our offices Christmas parties are being held, teams are bringing in secret Santas and I’ve also noticed tinsel and even fairy lights decorating some people’s desks. These visible signs of the season of good cheer exemplify what, for many, is a very happy holiday and a chance to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the end of the year.
The associations of Christmas (in a broad, secular sense) of kindness, love and charity are inarguably good things, and celebrating them seems absolutely right. However for the one in six people in the workplace who at any given time are struggling with some kind of mental health problem, this might be a real challenge.
Mental health is, more often than not, an invisible problem, which we tend not to see, even in ourselves (and I speak from experience) often until it is at crisis point. At Christmas this will likely be truer than at other times of the year. We might hear loud laughter and see bright lights and garish colours, but some of our colleagues may not be laughing or celebrating – at least not on the inside.
At KPMG we respect the individual and strive to make every colleague feel not only that they can bring ‘their whole selves to work’, but that they belong. At this time of year colleagues, and especially managers, have a duty to show that Christmas kindness to those around them who may be experiencing a mental health problem.