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INCLUSION & DIVERSITY

BEYOND THE STIGMA: TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

By Mark Jones, Inclusion & Diversity Specialist, Accenture, London

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Mental health hits home for me through my family and, sadly, with the recent loss of a close friend.

My family is part of the global statistic that one in four families will have at least one member with a behavioral or mental disorder.

My niece is autistic, which challenges my sister and family. She is now 16 years old and has essentially a mental age in the region of a three- or four-year-old. She has never been diagnosed, but it is believed she had some brain damage as a youngster that hindered her mental growth.

She’s a great kid, and I think she’s probably a lot smarter than a lot of people give her credit for.

As I have gotten older, I’ve become more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues in friends.

My friends and I have seen first-hand the challenges that people, including friends from our close-knit group, have had with mental health issues. It has become obvious to us that we all need to support and look out for each other, but not knowing how to deal with issues correctly hindered me in doing so effectively.

How we can help

Accenture has a strong focus on diversity, including people with disabilities, and on mental health. Working here has helped me understand better what to do. There is a strong business reason for understanding and helping people with mental illness, and there is a strong human reason as well.

I am proud to be a Mental Health Ally at Accenture. This program, introduced in 2014, raises awareness across our workforce around mental health. Each one of the more than 1,200 allies wears a special Mental Health Ally lanyard that identifies them as someone who is informed and approachable for anyone who wants to talk.

I went to a conference recently, and the speaker said, “Life is easy when you break your leg; you can fix it. But when you are hurting inside, and you can’t see it; no one can fix it. And when they know about it, they don’t know how to fix it.”

So, initiatives like our Mental Health Ally program push the importance of understanding and being aware of these issues, so we can all start helping others.

Finding meaningful employment

My desire to help people with mental health challenges dovetails with my work. I work on the Inclusion & Diversity UK-Ireland recruitment team. We offer strategic advice around global and local inclusion and diversity strategies, helping a team of 100 recruiters to augment their recruitment plans to align with gender, ethnicity, persons with disabilities, etc.

At my prior employer, Accenture was a client of mine, and friends who worked at Accenture said the company had a strong moral compass around all things inclusion and diversity, which I thought was great. I have been here for almost two years now in the Inclusion & Diversity team–loving the challenges that it offers.

I’ve pledged to help others own inclusion and diversity. Part of this effort involves simplifying inclusion and diversity and showing how simple it can be to do small things that make big differences.

What I have conceptualized, and what we have built, is an effort within Accenture called #InclusionStartsWithI. It helps the people who work here to understand very specifically what our strategic targets are around inclusion and diversity and how they can affect that in as simple a way as possible.

Learn more about inclusion and diversity efforts at Accenture.

“There is a strong business reason for understanding and helping people with mental illness, and there is a strong human reason as well.”

View Mark along with other colleagues in our
#InclusionStartsWithI video.

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