Businesses across the Midlands are being offered the chance to boost productivity by working with the University of Derby to provide better mental health support for employees.
The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot funded by the Midlands Engine was launched in July 2019 and supports businesses of any size and sector, to examine their current challenges and gaps in wellbeing provision, roll out key mental health initiatives across their workplace, and receive bespoke one-to-one support to enhance the culture and wellbeing of the workforce across their organisation.
The cost to the economy of mental health across the Midlands could be in excess of £45bn this year. Yet research shows that for every £1 invested in supporting the mental health of employees, the return to the employer in productivity is £5. Those returns are greater still when employers take preventative, rather than reactive, steps to help their staff.
Employees are three times more likely to discuss their physical health over mental illness at work. Only 14% of 2,000 workers polled said they felt comfortable discussing their mental health worries at work, compared with 42% of workers who felt able to talk about physical conditions (Quality Compliance Systems, Jan 2020)
Part of the problem with mental health is the stigma attached to it. Employees are often fearful of how they will be perceived and what impact the disclosure of a mental health problem will have on their professional careers. Some employers are also frightened of approaching an employee they believe is in need of help for fear of causing more harm than good.
A healthy and inclusive workplace is essential for all businesses, so providing appropriate support for employees, creating a culture of openness and tackling discrimination and stigma, will help to remove some of the barriers to growth and development for firms.
The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot will link employers directly to initiatives such as Every Mind Matters, This is Me and Mental Health First Aid, which all provide expert guidance. Once embedded into an organisation, the guidance aims to help reduce the prevalence of mental health difficulties and increase productivity among the workforce.
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