The importance of your personal mental health network #RUOK

Rob Perry, Head of People Services

People often talk about networking in the career sense; collaboration, market knowledge, the inevitable LinkedIn showcasing and meet and greets at industry events. But people don’t talk so much about a network to look after yourself, despite industry becoming wise to the millions of dollars we lose every year to mental health issues. Maybe it’s time that changed.

I’ve had various mental health events in my life, and thanks to having the right people around me and getting to know myself so I can recognise my own warning signs, I believe I’m a stronger person. The process has also meant I am able to better help others. Recently, KPMG gave me the courage and support to talk a bit more about my own experiences and to help promote a worthy cause: RUOK Day. Being open about my own experiences wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d do outside of a very close knit group of friends – but I’m learning this might benefit others.

There is an often-used phrase I think is particularly apt in the mental health space – inaction breeds fear. Not doing anything about your own mental health, or not reaching out to someone who you suspect is struggling, is a worst case scenario. Being pro-active reduces fear and instils a feeling of hope. You may already know this, but when you’re in a bad situation or over-thinking something, there is enormous power in normalising that feeling.

I remember at a particularly dark time, somebody telling me it was all ok, what was happening could happen to anyone, and in fact it was normal to feel this way. In that moment, I felt like a million dollars because of those effective words. Supporting yourself with the right network gives you the option of intercepting the momentum of a problem. Cutting through the panic or halting the escalation of fear can be pivotal and all of this is easier when you know who your network really is.

RUOK has a very important message behind it: listen, don’t judge. Some issues are simple and can be resolved quickly with the right support, but others are complex and require patience and sustained support to work through. In the age of social media where the appearance of career, personal and family success via photo sharing can be everywhere, a sense of objectivity is good in your mental health network. There are times you need to recognise life is just going a bit too fast, and other times where it may be crucial to recognise signals of a deeper issue. One thing is for sure, it’s hardly ever as bad as you think.

At KPMG we talk about the concept of being authentic in everything we do. Mental health sits close to this important concept. A culture supportive of being open about who you are and what made you that way are absolutely crucial. You never know when the important conversation you’ve been meaning to have with someone might make a huge difference.

@ruokday

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5 thoughts on “The importance of your personal mental health network #RUOK

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience Rob. As powerful a support network as peers and colleagues can be it’s still affirming and powerful to see our KPMG leaders “being authentic” when it comes to Mental Health. Great to see individuals at all levels of the Firm contributing to open dialogue around caring for ourselves and each other!

  2. Thanks Rob for sharing your story. The more we normalise mental health the more people will feel able to speak up, access and find the support and services they need. A work friend helped me to finally make the call at a time when everything seemed to crash. I worried that asking for help was a sign of failure, but it’s actually quite the reverse – it’s empowering. We spend so much time on other aspects of our health, this area is equally if not the most important to keep tabs on. There is a positive ripple effect for others by looking after yourself first.

  3. Thanks for sharing Rob! I agree that normalizing mental health is incredibly important – and the first part of that is brave people just raising the issue and talking about their own experience. All the best.

  4. Good article. I agree that networks created around mental health are an amazing way to help people to understand through sharing experiences – and sometimes through just knowing that there may be a bad day and that’s ok – because a good day will follow.

  5. Thank you Rob. This is a very apt piece with a great insight about the other kind of network. I have found the friendliness and supportive attitude of KPMG people very helpful at challenging times in my life over the years and have appreciated their concern at times I have been faced with emotional/mental health challenges. Being at KPMG has helped me understand the importance of reaching out and talking to colleagues when before I might have kept it to myself – not to mention the availabilty of the Firm’s own help line.

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