Why I Recommend the Workplace Mental Health Collaborative - National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City , Inc.

Why I Recommend the Workplace Mental Health Collaborative

Rachel Duncan, VP, Deutsche Bank

I’ve had the privilege of being part of the Workplace Mental Health Collaborative, an initiative that has helped continue to change the way we approach mental health at Deutsche Bank. I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive impact prioritizing mental health can have for employees.

The Collaborative emerged from a crucial discussion at Deutsche Bank, and we’re proud to have been a founding partner in that sense. We recognized the urgent need to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, facilitate open discussions, and provide support to employees dealing with various challenges, whether related to physical disabilities, neurodiversity, or mental health issues.

We’ve focused on the power of storytelling. We believe that the more we openly discuss mental health, the more accepting people become, realizing that these challenges are a part of everyday life. We’ve strived to lead with empathy, with senior leaders actively engaging in these discussions to reinforce that discussing mental health is not just acceptable but also a professional approach that makes us more human. I’ve faced my own mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression. But by sharing our stories and learning from each other, we can break down the stigma surrounding mental health and build a more supportive and empathetic workplace.

Deutsche Bank received NAMI-NYC’s Corporate Leadership Award at the Seeds of Hope Gala on Monday, October 2 for their commitment to workplace mental health.

Our Collaborative emphasizes the importance of incorporating mental health considerations “from day one,” whether you’re an incoming intern or a seasoned professional. We believe that prioritizing mental health and self-care is essential for achieving a healthy work-life balance, and this begins at the very start of your career journey. We’ve seen how incoming interns and program participants seek employers who prioritize mental health, creating a positive and supportive work environment right from the beginning. This philosophy is built into NAMI-NYC’s “From Day One” training program, which offers companies the guidelines, training materials, and implementation guide to introduce mental health conversations from an employee’s first day of work at orientation.

Deutsche Bank’s own ERG, dbEnable, has been crucial to reducing stigma and fostering open conversations. Many mental health challenges can be everyday life events such as starting a new job, ending a relationship, or moving, and they affect individuals differently. We encourage open discussions and provide a safe space for employees to share their experiences. We expanded our efforts during the pandemic, acknowledging the challenges many were facing in this uncertain time. Our monthly “How are you feeling?”  sessions led by employees who are certified in Mental Health First Aid have become a safe space for employees to share and connect. We also champion well-being across the organization and provide access to on-site therapists in certain locations.

The organizational cultural shift has been significant. The pandemic blurred the lines between work and personal life, forcing us to confront our vulnerabilities. Whether we wanted to or not, with virtual and hybrid work, we invited our colleagues into our homes, introduced them to our families, and let them hear the background noise of our lives. It’s become more apparent than ever that we must bring our whole selves to work and prioritize our mental, physical, and spiritual health.

The Collaborative has facilitated impactful trainings on various topics, from suicide prevention awareness to caring for loved ones with mental health or substance use issues. These taboo topics have gained visibility, and people are taking them more openly. We’ve learned that everyone is affected by mental health challenges in one way or another, whether personally or through someone they care about.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Collaborative is the opportunity to learn from other organizations, both large and small, and from different countries. We’ve discovered unique approaches to mental health support and innovative tools and resources. This diversity of perspectives has enriched our discussions and encouraged us to think outside the box.

If you’re serious about prioritizing mental health within your organization and truly caring for your people, you need to explore what other companies are doing. The Collaborative offers a platform where professionals can come together to share ideas, learn from each other, and create positive change. Today, staying informed and proactive about mental health is not just a corporate responsibility–it’s a moral imperative.

Rachel Duncan is Vice President and Strategic Project Manager within Regional Management Americas at Deutsche Bank and strongly committed to building mentally healthier workplaces.

To join the Collaborative for 2024, reach out to aauerbach@naminyc.org. To learn more, visit our website.