Breaking down stigma of mental health in property

13 May 2019

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Pamitta Mall, Sustainability Consultant, Turley and Diversity & Inclusion Officer on the BPF Futures Advisory Board provides a blog on mental health in the property industry.

I’ll admit it; I’m still relatively new to the property industry. I took up my most recent and only role as Sustainability Consultant in the sector approximately 18 months ago, having formerly worked in the social and non-profit sector. My experience of mental health awareness in the social and non-profit sector was positive; a healthy work-life balance was actively encouraged, open channels of communication were expected and working environments which harboured honesty and trust were fostered.

I was, and still am happy and excited to join the property industry and help to shape where we live, work, play, shop, learn and heal. My initial perception was of relevant and rewarding work, excellent career opportunities and being able to work with driven and knowledgeable people. This, of course, was mirrored with the anticipation of long(er) hours, the client and the service as the most important aspect of the day and a more ‘corporate’ environment.

I was worried that the culture of openness wouldn’t be reflected in my new work space, and that I may not be able to bring my whole self to my new role. I’ve come to realise however, that I’ve joined the industry at a time where these attitudes and outlooks are really being shaken up. Health and wellbeing and conversations around mental health are an increasing focus for many in the industry.

The excellent work of organisations such as LionHeart for example, which supports the John O’Halloran Initiative, set out to challenge perceptions around mental health. My own experience at Turley has seen Wellbeing and Resilience leads in each office that advocate healthy lifestyles and positive mental health, and that promote wellbeing initiatives, including meditation sessions, mental health conversations and walks, and activities away from desks and laptops to provide clarity in the working day.

BPF Futures is another avenue through which mental health awareness and conversations can take place; forums, open spaces and regular events have helped to create environments in which we, as junior professionals can speak to our peers and have open and frank discussions about working in the industry.

In no way am I saying that the property industry is a shining light for tackling the stigma and prejudice which is so often attached to conversations around mental health, but the industry is taking steps in the right direction, making progress and creating spaces to discuss the realities of our mental health.

As a Futures member of the property industry, it’s important to remember that what we do, how we act, the conversations we start and the narratives we accelerate will shape the environments we work in and the industry in its entirety.