10 October 2017 | By Penny Mordaunt MP Community

Mental health: you can't afford to ignore it

Minister for Disabled People Penny Mordaunt MP explains how small changes in your organisation can make a big difference

One in five working adults is currently dealing with some form of mental health problem. While this may seem alarming, there are several things employers can do to ensure they produce the right work environments for people to thrive.

Today is World Mental Health Day, with the theme mental health at work; an initiative that deserves all of our support. Whether it’s reducing lost working days, opening up your recruitment to a wider pool of talent or tackling ‘presenteeism’, there is a huge amount to be gained by taking mental health seriously.

More and more employers are committing to making work a supportive place for employees who might be struggling with their mental health. 5,000 organisations, including the CBI, have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme, which gives employers the tools they need to recruit, retain and support disabled people, including those with mental health conditions. With many organisations already taking positive action, it’s important that employers share their experiences with each other.

Moving mental health up the agenda

Organisations like Fujitsu, a CBI member, are leading the way by creating open environments in which people feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Fujitsu recently hosted an internal webinar during which employees shared their personal experiences, encouraging others to do the same. The company is now putting together tips for other employers on organising mental health awareness events.

This October is Disability Confident’s Mental Health in the Workplace Month. As well as Fujitsu, organisations such as Jaguar Land Rover and Barclays will showcase examples of fostering talent and supporting employees with mental health conditions to succeed at work. Throughout the month, they will share videos, webinars and case studies with other employers in order to move mental health up the workplace agenda.

If your organisation is just starting out on its journey in prioritising mental health more highly, there’s plenty of advice and support available. If you’re an employer who is concerned about a member of staff, the mental health charity Mind offers resources to help you support employees who may be struggling. Initiating a conversation or simply listening can be a great starting point for getting someone the support they need to thrive.

Support is available for employees too. If mental health is affecting someone’s ability to do their job, help is available through our Access to Work scheme’s dedicated Mental Health Support Service. If they don’t want to disclose their mental health condition to you, employees can come directly to Access to Work for support that will help them to do their job to the best of their ability.

On World Mental Health Day I want to remind all employers that you have a part to play in tackling poor mental health and breaking down the stigma that has long surrounded the issue. By making small changes you can make a big difference to the wellbeing of employees and, ultimately, the success of your business.

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