The Mental Health Foundation are calling for a national prevention strategy to reduce the amount of people who suffer from mental health problems, as they launch Mental Health Awareness Week 2015.

This year’s awareness week, which will run from 11th – 17th May, will focus on mindfulness as a method for “treating” depression and other related conditions, based on new research that reveals that significant numbers of people in Britain regularly stuffer from stress (29%), anxiety (24%) and depression (17%).

Jenny Edwards CBE, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“We have just had a General Election where for the first time mental health was a key issue addressed in the manifestos of the major parties. The public are calling for practical action. It’s now time to hold the new Conservative Government to commit to significant steps.

“Of course adequate funding of mental health services is vital, but we also need a national prevention strategy for mental health to help prevent mental health problems from developing wherever possible. We need to tackle the causes that increase the risks of mental ill health and to equip people with practical tools that help prevent stress, anxiety and depression, and build resilience.”

The survey of over 2,000 British adults, conducted by YouGov, also revealed that nearly half (46%) of workers struggle to get their minds off work and that nearly two thirds of respondents (65%) would take part in activities that reduce stress.

Dr Jill Miller, Research Adviser at the CIPD, commented:

“With two-fifths of UK employers saying they’ve seen an increase in reported mental health problems over the past year, it’s become an issue they just can’t ignore. As well as being the right thing to do, investing in employees’ mental health also makes clear business sense. Healthy employees are more focussed at work, so they’ll be more productive and come up with better ideas.

“If we see someone with a broken arm we’ll happily talk about it, but we still shy away from talking about ‘hidden illnesses’ like mental health. So how do we break the silence and have more open and supportive conversations? It’s about building awareness in all your staff, and ultimately about good people management, including:

  • Line manager training to spot early warning signs of issues and feel confident to talk with their staff about any problems
  • Promote the importance of looking after your mental health, as well as the support that’s on offer if you’re struggling
  • Monitor workloads and address frequent late-working
  • Ramping up internal communications about the support offered to  employees (e.g. counselling services) and how to access that support
  • Looking at culture – do people feel able to flag when they are struggling?
  • Holding a ‘lunch and learn’ session on mental health to increase awareness across the organisation
  • Acknowledging that people can’t always leave their personal lives outside the door when they come into work
  • Considering simple workplace adjustments that can help retain talented people”