Matthew Elvidge

Workplace

Government Context

In January 2017, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke about ‘the unacceptable stigma of mental health’ and ‘the need to transform the way that we deal with mental health problems right across society and at every stage of life… in our classrooms, at work and in our communities’.

This resulted in the  Government launching an Inquiry into workplace mental health (January 2017) led by Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind and Lord Stevenson.

Employer response

Employers are now beginning to support people at work with mental health problems, so that they can recover and return to work quicker. They are also becoming more aware of the importance of wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. The City Mental Health Alliance and Business in the Community have provided strong and encouraging leadership in this field.

The Challenge

This is very positive, however, our belief is that we will not be able to deliver real, long term, sustainable change until we invest in prevention and ensure that all businesses help their staff to understand the importance of wellbeing and good mental health and how to keep well… as well as providing appropriate support when needed.

Health should now be considered a core part of performance management for all staff alongside delivering targets, behaviours and leadership skills.

Our influence

The Trust has regular meetings with leading businesses to promote this approach and recently provided evidence to the Government’s Workplace Inquiry mentioned above. A copy of this Submission is Here. Please read the summary of our recommendations on how business should respond to this important opportunity below. Here also is a link to the final Farmer/Stevenson Review published in October 2017.

Government’s Inquiry into Workplace Mental Health - October 2017

Summary

Business makes huge investments in health and safety, leadership and behaviours, culture and business change training and yet, there is little investment in the health of employees in its broadest context to improve everyones’ performance and reduce the level of health problems that occur.

Here are our detailed recommendations:

Recommendations

Strategic - Employers should be encouraged to embrace health (mental health) as a strategic opportunity to improve business performance.This will need deep rooted cultural change.

Leadership - The importance of good health (mental health) should be led from the top and be part of the everyday language of the workplace in every setting. 

Lifecycle - Employers should play a leading role in identifying those skills that are needed in the workplace to ensure that our education system from aged 3-25 has a clear understanding of the requirements for each transition. 

Performance review - Employers should bring ‘keeping healthy’ alongside ‘delivering targets’ and ‘improving behaviours and leadership skills’ into the language of every workplace conversation and all performance discussions.

Health Education and support - Leading employer groups (BITC, IoD, CBI, CHMA and others) should work with Government to develop a clear Vision and Framework that could lead to an increased level of investment in health education and support, based on the business case for improved business performance. 

Suicide prevention and post-vention - Every employer should develop a plan to train all their staff in mental health awareness, how to spot the signs of mental ill health and how to start a conversation with colleagues that appear to be experiencing difficulties or expressing suicidal feelings. 

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