The charity Mates in Mind has called on business leaders to address mental health in the workplace.
The charity said it was “encouraged” by a recent debate in the House of Commons on the subject, but warned more must be done to achieve a “fundamental change” in workplace mental wellbeing.
It has also appealed 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 debate featured contributions from various MPs, including Luciana Berger, Johnny Mercer and Norman Lamb.
During the debate, Ms Berger praised the work of Mates in Mind, which she said is a “fantastic charity” that aims to tackle the stigma around poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing in the UK construction industry.
She also praised the work at Thames Water, where 350 employees across the organisation are trained in mental health first aid.
“In a decade from now, when mental health first aiders are an established part of the workplace, we will wonder why we did not start sooner,” she told MPs.
In his speech, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb quoted figures from the Health and Safety Executive, which show that 57% of days off work through ill health are due to mental ill health of one sort or another.
“This is not just about time off work, because many people end up falling out of work and on to benefits, and others turn up to work but under-perform — the concept of presenteeism — because they are not feeling on top of their game, or because they are obsessed by anxieties or concerns that prevent them from performing their work responsibilities effectively,” said Mr Lamb.
According to the 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% of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health.
Responding 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.”
Visit the new Workplace Wellbeing Show at Safety & Health Expo 2019. Registration is now open, click below to secure your free place.