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‘City bosses need to take mental health personally’

‘City bosses need to take mental health personally’

City bosses need to stop delegating mental health to their human resources departments and start taking it personally, according to Quilter’s chief executive.

On FTAdviser’s latest podcast, Paul Feeney said CEOs should be making sure their employees come directly to them with mental health concerns, rather than go to managers or executives.

“As leaders across the City, we have to take this personally. We can’t delegate it to our HR departments, tell people what targets we expect and do nothing ourselves about it,” said Feeney.

“We have to show that we’re doing our bit, that we’re talking about it and making sure our people can come to us. Because if your people aren’t coming to you personally - I don’t mean coming to your managers, your executives - but if they’re not coming to you personally, you’re not stepping up.”

Feeney has talked openly about his mental health experiences over the past few years, sharing his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and how this has impacted his mental health.

“The City has been, in the past, and to a certain extent still, quite a testosterone-fuelled environment. I think that is changing with a new generation of leaders in the City, but it’s taken time to change,” said Feeney.

“Certainly when I joined [the industry], there was more of a dog eat dog culture in the City. The things we’re talking about now I never thought I could talk about at the time.”

Asked what he makes of bosses who are still concerned giving too much airtime to mental health could deter people from their jobs, Feeney said: “Those that still think ‘I can’t do this because it’ll impact performance or sickness levels might go up’, let me tell you, sickness levels go down when you talk about this stuff. They don’t go up.”

The Quilter boss said fellow CEOs can take one of two views: either that people need to be managed and if they’re not held to account they won’t add value, or that people come to work to make a difference.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re big, you’re small…you can make a difference simply by speaking up…but fewer people have done that than you might think.”

To listen to the full podcast, click on the link above.

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com