Richard Holmes, ex-CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, shares why he's investing in mental health.
I’ve been interested in mental health conditions for a while now. When I was CEO Europe at Standard Chartered Bank I became the Co-Chairman of the Global Disability Initiative with a particular focus on mental health at work.
I still believe that supporting people with mental health conditions in the workplace is the right thing to do, not least because the cost of poor mental health in UK businesses is estimated at £33bn-42bn a year.
But what if we could prevent mental illness from developing into a long-term issue in the first place? Before the problems hit the workplace?
That’s the question MQ is asking, and I want to help them find the answers.
Research has already shown that 75% of mental health conditions begin before the age of 18, 50% before the age of 14 when an individual’s development is still underway. If we could use medical research at that developmental stage to gain insights into which people are more likely to experience mental health conditions, then we could intervene early and prevent those conditions becoming something more serious.
Unlike most disabilities, I think the most frustrating aspect of mental health problems is that the mind is largely invisible. But if we could really understand what is happening in the body and the brain, we could start dealing with mental illness in a more targeted way.
And if we could do that, then we could start changing public perception of mental illness – and encourage people to see it as a medical issue that is as important as someone’s physical well-being.
Of course, our ultimate goal is preventing mental illness in the first place. But until we reach that point, early diagnosis in young people is the next best thing.
Mental health conditions are ubiquitous in our society, and supporting mental health research will have a huge impact on better understanding, treating and preventing mental illness. That’s why I’m investing in mental health research.