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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Time for a joined-up approach to mental health

James Rudoni

Mates in Mind urges industry leaders to invest in a joined-up approach to mental health conversations at work

ENCOURAGED by growing industry support for prioritizing mental health in the workplace, mental health support programme Mates in Mind is renewing its call to industry leaders to take a joined-up approach to addressing mental health. This, it says, will ensure that managers are properly equipped and confident to support conversations about mental health, alongside wider organizational support and understanding.

Whilst acknowledging that tackling the complex challenge of mental ill-health is an issue that has moved up the UK political and boardroom agenda, Mates in Mind believes more needs to be done to transform existing workplace mental health cultures.

A report published by YouGov last year found that 60% of employees feel their line manager is genuinely concerned for their well-being (compared with 55% in 2016), and 45% of employees believe that their organization does well in supporting those with mental health issues (40% in 2016).

Mates in Mind says it is pleased to witness the positive impacts of the initial steps being taken towards improving mental health, but also acknowledges that mental ill-health still poses a persistent challenge to UK workforces.

With the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting that in 2017/18 there were 15.4 million working days lost as a result of work-related stress, anxiety or depression (this equates to 57.3% of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health), Mates in Mind is calling on industry leaders to adopt a ‘Whole Organization’ and ‘Whole Person’ approach that will benefit both the individual as well as the wider business.

Speaking on the eve of the national Time to Talk Day [7 February], James Rudoni (pictured), managing director of Mates in Mind, said: ‘At Mates in Mind, we believe that the value of being able to support starting a conversation at work can never be underestimated.

‘This should be seen as part of a long-lasting transformation of workplace mental health, through which organizations can go beyond tackling a crisis of mental ill-health and act to prevent it in the first instance. As a result, we believe addressing mental health in the workplace is underpinned by both a strong moral as well as business case.

‘We are delighted to have more than 200 business supporters and partners, reaching out through them to more than 187,500 individual workers, helping to improve awareness and create safe environments in which such conversations can take place.

‘We continue to encourage business leaders to not only take the time to start the conversation in their workplaces, but also ask them to recognize this as a true investment in their people and their business overall.

‘We stress the importance of taking a joined-up approach and, importantly, supporting their managers to help facilitate such conversations. After all, managers are a reflection of their business’ priorities and values and, therefore, need to be able to demonstrate that their businesses are serious about their people’s health and well-being.

‘Mates in Mind has always advocated an approach that includes developing awareness and skills for those managing people within workplaces, to whom many employees are likely to turn to when they need to start a conversation about their mental health. We welcome the opportunity to work with others across all industries and encourage them to reach out to us.’

The Mates in Mind support programme offers a wide range of services that allows businesses of any size to promote positive mental health in the workplace and equip staff at all levels to support colleagues though the Start the Conversation training.

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