Addressing mental health challenges starts close to home at Johnson & Johnson
Before she started at Johnson & Johnson, Samantha Treasure-Valentine had worried about telling colleagues about her mental health challenges. She had faced episodes of mental illness a number of times over the years.
But when she started working for Johnson & Johnson in 2018, she found a supportive workplace where she felt safe.
“At one time I was petrified of speaking to line managers about my mental health,” she says. “But when I became unwell again shortly after joining Johnson & Johnson, I was able to tell people about the challenges I was facing because I felt safe. If you can tell colleagues and managers who you are, then it makes a huge difference. An environment of openness and support is really important.”
Samantha, an account manager at Johnson & Johnson, is now a leading advocate for providing safe spaces and platforms for people to talk about their mental health at work through an employee resource group – the Alliance for Diverse Abilities in the UK.
The group’s UK chair, Jon Bacon says the aim is to create a culture of inclusion, to address the challenges of mental health in ways of working, as well as what is delivered:
“We support open dialogue about mental health among our employees – through our diversity, equity and inclusion programmes and groups such as the Alliance for Diverse Abilities.
“We are open about challenges and we continue to cultivate an environment where our mental well-being can flourish – the Alliance for Diverse Abilities helps to create that culture, to involve and be inclusive, and equip everyone to support each other. This brings out the best in all of us. We want to accelerate new ways of thinking and the practice of inclusion that will further enable Johnson & Johnson’s leadership as a diverse abilities company.”
As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson is committed to using its reach and size for good.
The company’s involvement in mental health began in the 1950s when Dr Paul Janssen's research led to a revolutionary breakthrough treatment for schizophrenia. Over the last half century, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have discovered, developed, and launched many innovative treatments for conditions affecting the brain and central nervous system.
“We have an extraordinary heritage in working to treat mental illness,” says Jakob Sveen, General Manager for UK and Ireland at Johnson & Johnson. “This extends to our work for patients and service users, as well as frontline health care professionals – but it starts with the mental health and well-being of our own people.”
“Mental well-being affects everything – from our physical health to our ability to be present in our lives and in our work. That’s why we consider mental well-being integral and inseparable from total health. We know that strong mental well-being unlocks a more vibrant life, stronger communities and a stronger company.”
Guided by its Credo – the company’s statement of values – Johnson & Johnson is also working (in partnership with the charity Mental Health UK) to support mental health services in the community. With funding from Johnson & Johnson UK and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, the Community Mental Health Navigators programme is intended to improve the lives of patients and ease the burden on stretched primary care services, as Rhoda Steel, head of CSR for Johnson & Johnson in the UK explains:
“Johnson & Johnson is committed to supporting local communities, and tackling the stigmas around mental health, including racial health inequity.
“The Community Mental Health Navigator Programme helps people who need it most by connecting them to non-clinical services within their community, such as housing and financial advice.
“It’s an innovative programme that has the potential to transform the way that care is delivered to those living with severe mental illness. One of the reasons we wanted to work with Mental Health UK on this pilot was because it could provide a possible blueprint for the rest of the UK to follow in the future – which would provide the evidence needed to improve many more lives.”
This year Samantha Treasure-Valentine was named Most Inspiring Employee of the Year by the charity This Can Happen. She was praised for speaking up about her challenges, overcoming stigma and supporting a positive workplace for mental health.
“I have been able to help others in ways I never thought possible and to move forward the dialogue to break down barriers associated with mental ill health” Samantha says, reflecting on her journey at Johnson & Johnson. “I now see how I experience mental health as my superpower.”