Dr Zoe Fortune is the Founding CEO of CMHA Hong Kong, the Hong Kong focused sister organization of City Mental Health Alliance Global, a not-for-profit membership organisation pioneering business led and expert guided mental health support for businesses.
Zoe shared with the Make A Difference Asia Team her thoughts on the status of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace in Asia. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
On the shifting conversation of mental health in the workplace…
“I think 3 years ago, we were talking about the business case and the costs of mental health care in Hong Kong. But in my opinion, there’s been a subtle shift and now we’re talking about the human case – which was what it was about all along.”
On the role of senior leadership…
“The role is to create a culture of empathy. That needs to be driven from the top but it’s also about empowerment at every level of an organization. We don’t create systemic change across an organization if we don’t empower employees at every level of an organization and make them feel part of this change.”
On the continued need for education and understanding…
“Stigma is still an issue and mental health is not something that people always feel open to speak about. There is still a stigma that exists in the workplace. But the way we address that and the way we change that is to create an environment and a culture of empathy and understanding and knowing that it’s okay to reach out for help.”
On the difference between social distancing and physical distancing…
“We’ve all talked about “social distancing” – it’s the word of 2020. But actually, we should be talking about “physical distancing” because we shouldn’t socially disconnect, we should enhance the social connection and decrease the physical connection.”
On “Keep chipping away” at stigma around mental health wellbeing
“This is not something that’s going to change over night. We know that it actually takes somewhere between 18 months and 3 years for a mental health strategy to be implemented within an organization.
It’s about small incremental changes. We might see big changes, we might see little changes, but it’s about building on those changes that we have seen to “keep chipping away” at the stigma, keep raising awareness and understanding [the strategies] we put in place at the organization, so that we can start to create change in this culture and create these workplaces where people can thrive.”
To learn more about the strategies and tools experts and business leaders are implementing to address mental health and wellbeing at the workplace, join us and partner with us at Make A Difference Asia on 11 November 2020, a by-invitation only, C-Suite event.
About the author
Cheryl Liew – In going global, Make A Difference events is partnering with Cheryl Liew as Event Director of Make A Difference Asia. Cheryl is founder of Lifeworkz a firm headquartered in Asia which partners C-suite to evolve relevant, inclusive and high performing workplaces; since 2006 shaping the future of work and the future of Asia. This is done by focusing transformation through three niche areas — Contemporary Organisations, Culture, Gender & Generations Inclusion and High Performance without Burnout. Whether working with multi-national corporations in China and India, or consulting with retail brands and government agencies in Indonesia or Australia, the vision of LifeWorkz remains the same. As a Keynote speaker, author and executive high-performance coach, Cheryl is passionate about inspiring and empowering individuals to thrive without compromising the lifestyle they desire and certainly without burnout.