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Getting Ahead: Leading London employers pave the way in prioritising mental health at work

Wednesday, 17 June 2015 Mind

Senior business leaders are speaking out about how they are supporting the wellbeing of their employees and urging other organisations to follow suit.

Eleven executives from across sectors have contributed to ‘Getting Ahead: Why Mental Health at Work Matters’ - a ground breaking collection of thought pieces detailing how their organisation prioritises the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

‘Getting Ahead: Why Mental Health at Work Matters’ represents a tipping point in acknowledging the role of employers in supporting staff wellbeing. The collection outlines what each senior leader is doing within their business to benefit the wellbeing of staff, including those experiencing stress or a mental health problem, and is being presented at a breakfast event this morning at City Hall.

The event, supported by mental health charity Mind and the Mayor of London, comes as research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Mind reveals the damaging impact stress is having on employees. In a survey of 1250 workers in England and Wales, nearly one in five (18%) said that they had developed depression as a result of workplace stress, while over one in four (26%) had developed anxiety. Workplace stress had caused 42% of respondents to consider resigning, while 40% had looked for a new job elsewhere. Nearly one in seven (14%) had actually handed in their notice because of workplace stress.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“Poor mental health is hugely prevalent in workplaces, with many employees under so much stress that they’re leaving their jobs. A big part of the problem is that staff often don’t feel able to speak out about mental health and seek support before problems spiral. Encouragingly, in London, a revolution is taking place around the water cooler as more and more people talk openly about wellbeing at work.

“We are now at a tipping point, with increasing acknowledgement from employers that more needs to be done to help people stay well at work, tackle the work-related causes of poor mental health and support staff experiencing mental health problems. By fostering a mentally healthy workplace culture and putting in place the right support, businesses are able to achieve peak performance. We now need mental health at work to become a priority for every organisation across the UK, beyond the capital.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

"We established the Healthy Workplace Charter to encourage employers to invest in staff health and wellbeing, including mental ill-health. It's an issue that can be personally devastating, but supporting the well-being of employees also makes sound business sense. Our own research has shown that the loss in productivity and other impacts of mental ill health cost the London economy £26 billion a year, so there is an economic as well as personal price to be paid. That more organisations are beginning to treat mental health amongst their staff seriously is to be welcomed and I would urge other organisations to follow their lead."

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health England and Health Advisor to the Mayor of London said:

“Londoners have poor mental wellbeing compared to other regions across the country. London has the UK’s highest levels of anxiety and almost a third of Londoners report low levels of wellbeing. Around 6.63m working days are lost each year in London due to stress, anxiety or depression.

“Good mental health enables individuals to cope with the normal stresses of life, to work productively and fruitfully, and to make a contribution to his or her community. London should be a place where everyone enjoys good mental health and no-one is left to suffer alone. We spend a large proportion of our time at work and this is why workplaces need to play their part in prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.”

Experts in the field of workplace wellbeing Paul Farmer and Professor Yvonne Doyle will deliver keynote speeches. A panel discussion on the importance of mental health as a business priority is to be chaired by Mark Easton, Home Editor at the BBC, and will feature contributors from the collection of essays.

Contributors to the collection are at the forefront of promoting good mental health at work. They're at various stages of the journey to creating mentally healthy workplaces - from acknowledging the importance of staff wellbeing, to implementing changes to policies and procedures within their organisations. Contributors include:

  • Caroline Wayman, Chief Executive of the Financial Ombudsman
  • Brian Heyworth, Co-Head, Financial Institutions Group, HSBC
  • Tony Cates, Partner, EMA and UK Head of Audit, KPMG
  • Robert Elliott, Senior Partner and Chairman, Linklaters
  • Martin Coyd OBE, Head of Environment, Health and Safety, Lend Lease Europe
  • Clare Francis, Editor-in-Chief, MoneySuperMarket
  • Camilla Harrison, Chief Executive, Anomaly
  • Steve Hatch, Managing Director, Facebook UK
  • Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive, Comic Relief
  • Nathan Elvery, Chief Executive, Croydon Council
  • Ian Ashman, Principal, Hackney Community College
  • John Binns, Wellbeing and Personal Resilience Advisor (and former Deloitte Partner).

Find out more about the London Healthy Workplace Charter 


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