World Mental Health Day: An important day for the workplace

Today (10th October) is World Mental Health Day, a day that promotes awareness of mental health in and out of the office, with many believing happy, healthy employees are the “backbone” of a successful company.

The advantages of this day for those in HR are clear as boosting mental health wellbeing in the office can lead to a rise in productivity, higher loyalty to the company and spur business growth.

This topic is far broader than just at the office as mental health costs the UK economy around £34 billion a year. While many feel this day is important, numerous individuals stated how mental health awareness should be promoted all year round.

Lisa Dodman, chief people officer at Unit4, a company that develops and designs enterprise software said:

While World Mental Health day is a great way to remind our staff of the support we have available, they expect and desire it to be an ongoing priority.

For our workforce to thrive, we feel strongly that a focus on mental health isn’t just for one day. Whether it’s internal charity initiatives where people can focus on purposeful opportunities to give back, or campaigns that we collectively engage in like Movember, we want to bring people together.

Simon Blake OBE, chief executive of Mental health First Aid (MHFA), which offers expert workplace guidance and training to support people’s mental health believes that organisations must take a “whole systems” approach to mental health.

Mr Blake said:

This World Mental Health Day we urge organisations take a ‘whole systems’ approach to mental health. When wellbeing and mental health is central to workplace culture, considered in all workplace policies, a training priority and backed by senior support, all employees reap the benefits.

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us all to improve our own education on mental health, raise awareness and commit to tackle mental health stigma.

Jack Curzon, consulting director at Thomsons Online Benefits, a global benefits management and employee engagement software company explained how regardless of an employee’s mental wellbeing state they require support from their employer.

Mr Curzon said:

Employers must remember that while their people may be on different mental wellbeing pathways, they all require support. Providing a personalised benefits offering, that enables individual employees to select from a range of options, covering counselling sessions to mindfulness apps, is an effective way of providing this. Having access to these kinds of benefits, and a working culture that is open and supportive around mental health, is not only good for employee wellbeing, but it undoubtedly has a positive impact on productivity and company loyalty too.

Helen Hay, head of HR at Shakespeare Martineau, a law firm explained how the company has adopted a team of mental health first aiders to assist with the mental wellbeing of the firm.

Ms Hay said:

At Shakespeare Martineau, we’ve set up a network of mental health first aiders across the business, who act as points of contact for all employees. In approaching the first aiders, employees can expect a non-judgemental, supportive and confidential meeting.

Empowerment is crucial and rather than people suffering in silence, there is a lot to be learned from sharing joint experiences. Many people have experience of mental health issues and learning coping mechanisms and strategies for improving mental wellbeing from colleagues and coworkers is hugely valuable.

Interested in wellbeing in the workplace. We recommend Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.