Work & Wellbeing

James Packer's resignation: Our attitude towards mental health is changing

3 min read

24 July 2018

Australian businessman James Packer has resigned from 24 company directorships citing mental health issues – and the way this news has been received shows our attitude is changing.

It has been revealed that Australian businessman James Packer had resigned from 24 company directorships citing mental health issues.

Packer, the son of media mogul Kerry Packer, quit the board of casino operator Crown Resorts in March after suffering business and personal problems. This included a messy break-up with pop singer Mariah Carey.

He quit the board of his private company Consolidated Press Holdings on June 27, with corporate records showing he resigned from 19 other directorships on the same day, plus another two since.

Packer’s admission that he has suffered mental health issues, has been praised in Australia. His resignation from Crown Resorts led to John Brogden, chairman of Australian crisis support service Lifeline declaring: “This makes Packer a lonely figure in business, but at the same time a brave and important one.”

According to a new survey, attitudes towards such mental health conditions in UK workplaces are also improving.

Around three-quarters of respondents to the Mad World Workplace Wellbeing survey felt there had been either a “slight” improvement or “significant” improvement when asked if attitudes to mental health had improved in the last three years.

However, almost 80% felt there was still some stigma associated with mental health issues in their workplaces. 

Some even suggested that colleagues who talked openly about mental health are viewed negatively.

The survey, ahead of the Mad World Summit on mental health in London this October, revealed that areas of improvement should include senior leadership doing more about openly discussing mental health and providing more training for line managers.

Businesses should also develop an open culture and talk openly at all levels, stop “macho” cultures of working long hours and encourage employees to achieve goals and give praise when completed.

“The results reinforce our belief that while there is progress regarding attitudes to mental health, there is still a long way to go. Businesses must crave more knowledge, training and to be more understanding in order to effectively help – and retain – their employees,” said Simon Berger, co-founder of Mad World.

“By addressing mental wellbeing in the workplace, employees will benefit from better resilience and greater prevention. Organisations will benefit from more committed employee engagement, higher productivity and increased profitability

“By harnessing the power of business, we can collectively increase understanding and acceptance, and normalise the parity of esteem of mental and physical health in society.”