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10 October 2017 | By Poppy Jaman Community

Workplace mental health

It's World Mental Health Day – and although attitudes to mental health are shifting, employers need to do more to help

Since last year’s World Mental Health Day, the national conversation on mental health has gained significant momentum. This year we’ve seen an increasing number of celebrities speaking candidly about their experiences with mental health, the launch of the Royals’ ‘Heads Together’ campaign and the Prime Minister has pledged to train staff in every secondary school in Mental Health First Aid.

Awareness of mental health has clearly grown and, encouragingly, an increasing number of people feel comfortable opening up about their mental health to others. But with the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 being ‘the workplace’ it is important to reflect how far employers have come in the past year and remain conscious of what more we still need to achieve.

Last week, in partnership with Business in the Community and others, we launched the Mental Health at Work Report which revealed that more than a million people who disclosed a mental health issue to their employer have faced negative consequences or even dismissal. This is despite 84 per cent of employers acknowledging their responsibility to staff mental wellbeing and 91 per cent of managers agreeing that what they do can affect their staff’s mental health.

Although it’s encouraging to see that attitudes towards mental health are shifting and that employers recognise their responsibilities regarding wellbeing in the workplace, this report demonstrates that we need to do more to translate this awareness into action.

Accessing support

Whether your business is big or small, with three in five employees experiencing mental health issues where work was a related factor, having support available in the workplace is paramount. To support employees, transform practices and embed a whole organisational approach to workplace wellbeing, employers need to make the offer of mental health training a priority.

In the past year Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) England has trained a further 65,000 people in Mental Health First Aid. As a result, to date over 206,000 people in England have Mental Health First Aid skills. Just some of the employers who have taken ownership of mental health in their workplace and trained Mental Health First Aiders include Unilever, Siemens and WHSmith.

For this year’s World Mental Health Day, to help enable employers to take a whole organisation approach to mental health, we’ve also launched a ‘Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit’. It illustrates a strategic step-by-step process to achieve a mentally healthy workplace, providing a suite of resources to facilitate this.

We hope that with the support of other mental health organisations, and action from employers, next year’s Mental Health at Work Report will demonstrate an uptick in workplace mental wellbeing and that employees will feel better equipped to seek mental health support.

For more guidance around how to approach and respond to a colleague who is experiencing a mental health issue download the free Line Managers Resource at: https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/resources/for-workplaces/

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