Mates in Mind believes business leaders are in a good position to address mental health in the workplace, but encourages them to consider that delivering meaningful change to their workforces should be effectively aligned to their business priorities.

Mates in Mind were encouraged by the level of engagement driven by the debate last week in the House of Commons for increased mental health awareness at work, led by Luciana Berger MP, Johnny Mercer MP and Norman Lamb MP. We would like to thank those MPs who highlighted the work of our charity, Mates in Mind, and that of our Business Champions and Supporters from across construction and related sectors.

Mates in Mind believes more must be done to achieve a fundamental change to workplace mental wellbeing, as the impact that mental ill-health poses UK workplaces is both incredibly widespread and complex. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2017/18 there were 15.4 million working days lost as a result of work-related stress anxiety or depression, up from 12.5 million in the previous year. This equates to 57.3 per cent of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health.

Mates in Mind now seeks to act upon the important items added to the political agenda during last week’s debate, appealing to leaders across UK’s industries to take note of the growing evidence of need, and also the means by which to take action. This includes the standards recommended by the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers published in October 2017.

The report identified six core standards that could apply to all workplaces regardless of size:

  1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
  2. Develop mental health awareness among employees
  3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
  4. Provide your employees with good working conditions
  5. Promote effective people management
  6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

Using such measures, as detailed within the ‘Thriving at Work’ report, and working in collaboration with industry partners, Mates in Mind has developed their mental health programme which embodies the principle that there is no health without mental health. We can therefore offer our support to industry leaders to develop a positive mental wellbeing environment and drive a meaningful shift in workforce cultures across the UK.

In response to the debate, James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates at Mind, said: “At Mates in Mind, we believe in a long-lasting transformation of workplace mental health, through which organisations can go beyond tackling a crisis of mental ill-health and act to prevent it in the first instance.

In this way Mates in Mind affirms the position taken by Minister Norman Lamb in that a ‘fundamental point is that the approach we should be taking is about preventing ill health in the workplace’. Therefore, while we celebrate the actions being taken to move mental health up the government agenda, and the legislative changes that could develop from the debate, we will continue to work with our industry partners to strive for the transformation of workplace culture.

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