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Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, on how UK businesses are increasingly focused on supporting their employees’ mental health

Sue Baker

11 May 2015
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With one in six workers in Britain experiencing mental health issues, and with the workplace being one of the most common areas where people report stigma and discrimination, it is vital that we pursue more inclusive workplaces focused on mental health and wellbeing as a core shared goal. Mental Health Awareness Week gives us another great opportunity to work collaboratively with employers on this agenda.

In recent years we’ve seen a profound increase in the appetite of employers to focus on mental health and wellbeing across whole workforces; the business and moral case for this work has been recognised during a period when mental health has moved up the public, social and political agendas, and as public attitudes have improved.

This appetite has led to 325 employers in England – from a range of sectors such as FTSE100 companies, councils, universities, all national Government departments and sports clubs – pledging their commitment to Time to Change and taking action to address stigma and discrimination and focus on wellbeing.

Having made this pledge, many are delivering training for line managers, mental health awareness and resilience sessions for staff, improved support services, and the promotion of wellbeing. We’ve also seen staff-led campaign and support groups set up alongside board-level mental health champions. Because of this work, more staff are speaking about their own mental health and 14% of pledged employers now report increased disclosure, which is a really effective way to create culture change.

Despite the significant progress made, 49% of the public say they would feel uncomfortable talking to an employer about their own mental health. This demonstrates that we have far more work to do and it’s vital that the commitment from organisations, of all sizes and in all sectors, continues. We need our places of work to support us to perform at our best, which means encouraging more open conversations about mental health so that people can seek help and support earlier.

For more information and examples of employers taking action visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/workplace.