'Depression made me a better CEO'

'Depression made me a better CEO'

The CEO of disability employer Remploy says that this struggle with depression helped him to become a better boss in an interview with Sky News.

Gareth Parry said that when the doctor told him that he was suffering from depression three years ago, he was “gobsmacked”.

“I had been going through a crisis in my personal life and I knew my condition was fluctuating. When I was down, I was really down,” he explained. “I didn’t feel loved and I didn’t feel valued. I would get home from work and cut myself off. I wouldn’t talk to anybody."

"My daughters would see me cry, but they didn’t really understand what was going on. It was pretty horrible stuff.”

However, despite reaching extremely low periods, Parry said that he never took time off work. “When my personal life was in shreds, work offered structure and routine,” he said. “It was really important in my recovery.”.

He said that his bosses were aware of his depression when they promoted him to Chief Executive status in 2016 and noted that colleagues were “incredibly understanding” and allowed him to work more flexibly. “I truly believe that overcoming depression has made me a better Chief Executive,” he concludes.

Parry is one of many who have endured a lengthy battle with depression. Last month, HR Grapevine reported that around eight per cent of the British population suffer from depression and the number of prescriptions issued for the condition were up by 46% last year to 57million.

Despite this, research commissioned by The Health Insurance Group found that less than half of organisations feel that they deal with mental health issues sufficiently.

With depression proving widespread at work, HR can help provide support for those experiencing it.

Head of wellbeing provider Rightsteps, Cliff Lee, said building networks within your organisation and focusing on creating an open culture can be very useful. “Providing access to materials which support your staff to develop self-awareness and self-management techniques helps build a workplace culture where members of the team provide emotional assistance to one another by simply talking to each other and sharing issues as they arise,” he said.

Comments (3)

  • Nova Ferguson
    Nova Ferguson
    Fri, 14 Sep 2018 1:42pm BST
    It's so important that the impact of depression at all levels of organisations is shared and understood. Depression isn't the sole province of the 'less successful' in organisations. Everyone's vulnerable.
  • Jennifer
    Thu, 13 Sep 2018 2:40pm BST
    Wonderful to see this being shared.....I completely agree, I suffered with anxiety in my 20's into my 30's and it absolutely helped in me becoming a better manager/leader. It has helped me to recognise change in behaviours and hopefully made me into a better manager as I tried to manage holistically and see the whole person in relation to their work, and on a very simple level recognise we are all human and sometimes need someone to talk to.
  • Kate
    Tue, 11 Sep 2018 4:42pm BST
    At long last a businessman who is willing to speak out! We read about celebs and royalty with regards to mental health but not from the business world. Well done for sharing. I do know though that we as a society are looking in the wrong direction for the solution I.e outside to prescriptions. I am not anti them & I think they can help. The direction we all need to look in is inside (inside-out vis outside-in) to begin to understand the source of wellbeing and mental health.

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