Employees would talk about mental health if they feel supported by business leaders

New research from mental health charity Mind[i], has revealed that poor mental affects half of all employees, however, only half of those who had experienced stress, anxiety or low mood said they had talked to their employer about it. As many as one in four UK workers is struggling in silence – something Mind says must change.

Cheryl Brennan, Head of Corporate Healthcare Consulting at Punter Southall Health & Protection  agrees and says mental health must become more of a priority for companies and wellbeing and mental health strategies need to be led by the board to ensure they are fully embraced by employees.

Cheryl says,

“UK employers are starting to provide mental health support, but there is some way to go. Mental health has for a long time been stigmatised and employers used to be very reluctant to get involved. This is changing slowly, but it is clear from Mind’s research, many employees feel they can’t open up about their mental health issues and this needs to change.”

The latest Employee Wellbeing Research 2018 from Punter Southall Health & Protection and Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) found that a growing number of UK companies are prioritising wellbeing, with almost half (45%) of organisations now having a defined wellbeing strategy in place.

However, just 16 per cent of UK employers currently have a defined mental health strategy in place, although 37 per cent plan to introduce one in the next 12 months and a further 26 per cent by 2020.

The research also found few strategies are being driven by the Board, with less than one in ten (8%) saying the Board actively drives the organisation’s wellbeing agenda and one in twenty (5%) saying their Board has little or no interest in employee wellbeing.

Brennan says,

“We all have mental health – it is as important as our physical health. It equally needs to be a part of the conversation in offices, so people feel confident enough to share any issues or how they are feeling with colleagues and managers. Big changes are needed but they will only come when boards truly embrace and openly support mental health strategies. This means committing to offering a range of support services for mental health, training managers to support employees with mental health issues and encouraging open conversations about mental health to remove any stigmas.”

The Mind[ii] research comes as the Duke of Cambridge and Mind launch an online Mental Health at Work gateway to help workplaces improve staff wellbeing.

Punter Southall Health and Protection also recommends to address mental health companies need to consider other areas that may impact mental health, such as financial wellbeing, diet, alcohol intake and sleep and develop programmes too.

Cheryl Brennan concludes,

“We all spend most of our hours at work and Employers have a duty of care to support people’s wellbeing and mental health.  A well and happy workforce is a motivated and productive one, so it makes good business sense too.”


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