Ellen Derrick, Deloitte Australia

Published Thu, Sep 17, 2020

My daughter Kate lives with two significant chronic illnesses, cystic fibrosis and diabetes. She was born with cystic fibrosis (CF) and developed diabetes as a result of CF.

She’s the toughest person I know. But over the last two years, as Kate has started to confront her own mortality and to understand what this might mean for her life and the choices she makes, she has experienced significant anxiety. She has been really open about that, and she is getting the help she needs.

To watch her be incredibly vulnerable and open and willing to share her experience with others, I’m so proud of her. She’s really been a great inspiration for me around how to carry that vulnerability.

That’s really helped me in the workplace. I never want anyone to experience those kinds of burdens – physical or mental – and not feel they can get the support or share what they need to. As leaders, we need to show up and care and create safe spaces so people can be open and get the help they need.

Straight from the top

At Deloitte, mental health is the key focus of our wellbeing strategy.

We are committed to creating an inclusive, safe and respectful environment every day. We want our leaders and people to have a good understanding of mental health and the confidence and capability to take care of themselves and others. We are committed to creating a culture where those experiencing mental health challenges are comfortable to share their experiences and be provided with the support they need.

That message comes straight from the top of our organisation. Our CEO Richard Deutsch has made it incredibly clear to the organisation that it is a priority for us, that we care deeply, and that it is an open environment where leaders and team members can share their stories.

Storytelling is vital. It’s the best form of learning and support and we use this as a way to continue to drive a focus on creating an open culture.

It’s not about us

We are really proud to be supporting the Alliance. We were in from day one.

I love the power of a significant number of Australian business leaders stating that mental health is critically important and that in a way we’re not doing enough, so together we’re going to do more, and we’re going to be better in our organisations and together.

It is truly inspiring.

The Alliance allows us to share best practice so we can get better, but we also have the opportunity to leverage the collective experience of our employees and the data from that to inform evidence-based improvements. We hope to be able to use that over time and to make sure the workplace is a critical asset to the health system in helping and supporting and working through mental health as an issue in this country.

What is particularly energising about the Alliance is the willingness to share and collaborate with competitors in the room. To put that competition aside and say this is not about us, this is about something more and something critically important – to us in our teams, and our employees, to our families and friends, and to the country.

Ellen Derrick, National Leader for Public Sector & Public Policy, Deloitte Australia

Board Member, Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia

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