Anastasia Vinnikova, Junior Recruiter and Mental Health Network Co-Chair at the Bank of England, talks about her struggles with mental ill health and how a campaign to wear a green ribbon helped her to share with her colleagues.
Just over a year ago, the Green Ribbon Campaign profoundly impacted my life, and I am writing today to share my story and to encourage more organisations to join this powerful campaign.
Having suffered from anxiety and depression for the past seven years, mental health is something I feel very strongly about. For a long period of time I was surrounded by cultures both personal and professional which made me feel like I could not be open about what I was going through. I suffered in silence, which ultimately severely hindered my ability to seek treatment and start on the road to recovery.
However, during last year’s Green Ribbon Campaign, I was stunned to see a flood of green ribbons worn by colleagues across the Bank. The sheer volume of people committed to signalling their support for those with mental health conditions, and willingness to so openly wear the ribbons and end stigma made me realise I was finally in an organisation where I could be my full self. Shortly after the 2017 Green Ribbon Campaign, I disclosed my conditions to my manager, and to my friends and family for the first time.
I now co-chair the Bank’s Mental Health Network helping to increase awareness around mental health through educational activities, and ensuring support is in place for people when they need it. Employees receive a lot of support from Human Resources, and in return through the Mental Health Network, they are able to positively influence HR policies. The green ribbon campaign, the Mental Health Network and other related activities have created a sense of community, and showed people that they are not alone.
The Green Ribbon Campaign has the simple and powerful message of Together we can #endthestigma. It asks organisations to encourage their employees to wear a green ribbon during Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW; 14-20 May 2018), to create a visible movement for those experiencing mental health issues. It’s a great opportunity to help foster a supportive working environment, and to encourage people to start a conversation and help #endthestigma.
It makes a real difference, and can impact people’s lives, just like it did mine. Thanks to the Green Ribbon Campaign I have gone from avoiding discussions around mental health at any cost, to sharing my experiences with anyone who will listen!
I’d really encourage you to both join this initiative, and to promote it within the organisations you work with. There are lots of ways to get involved:
- Order Green Ribbons and distribute them to your employees
- Turn London Green: if your building has outdoor lighting capacity, see if you can turn it green during MHAW (14-20 May 2018).
Mental health is a major growing issue in the UK, with one in four people experiencing mental ill-health in any given year. When receiving the right support, 70% of people with mental health problems fully recover – however only 51% of employees would feel confident disclosing their problem with their line manager.
Don’t underestimate the power of the campaign to make a real and tangible difference for a lot of people, just like it did for me.