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Mental Health at Work Leadership Council host business roundtable, supported by Mind

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 Mind

On Tuesday 21 June, Mind hosted ‘Mental Health in UK Workplaces’ – an online roundtable discussion between prominent businesses and government.

The event brought together a range of senior leaders from across government and business to discuss opportunities to work together to improve mental health at work, within the context of coming out of the pandemic. With the UK government committing to improving mental health and wellbeing through the launch of a call for evidence for a new mental health and wellbeing plan, this event came at a crucial time, coinciding with the plan’s consultation period. The discussion was chaired by Sir Ian Cheshire, former Chair of Barclays UK and Chair of the Mental Health at Work Leadership Council.

Mind works with employers of all sizes and sectors to support them on their journey to creating mentally healthy workplaces. Mind provides training to employers, a Workplace Wellbeing Index – a benchmark of best policy and practice - and curates the Mental Health at Work website which offers a range of resources to employees and employers. Mind is also part of the Mental Health at Work Leadership Council. Launched in 2017, the Mental Health at Work programme aims to:

• Improve working policies, practices and culture within organisations
• Build mental health literacy, enabling people to improve their working lives
• Reduce mental health stigma in the workplace

Among the esteemed attendees at the business roundtable were four Ministers from three key UK government departments: Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care; Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work; and Gillian Keegan, Minister of State for Care.

Also present at the roundtable were Deloitte UK, who presented findings of their latest research which shows an average return of £5.30 for every £1 employers invest in staff wellbeing* – making the economic argument for organisations to promote and prioritise employee mental health. Other employers involved in discussions included Unilever, Accenture, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Co-Op, City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace at Mind, said:

"We know that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on the mental health of the nation, including the UK workforce. At work, we had to quickly adapt the way we lead and manage our organisations and deliver our activities, services and products. We have seen incredible innovation, creativity and compassion from leaders in the targeted and comprehensive support they have made available for employees and customers in response to increasing need. But with the cost of mental health related sickness absence at a record high of £53-56 billion per year*, staff wellbeing must be at the heart of our recovery moving forwards.

“We are now presented with the opportunity for a reset and fundamentally redesign the way we work and put employee wellbeing at the heart of this. This is the time to create workplaces where people can be their authentic self and be supported to thrive. This roundtable discussion presented the perfect opportunity to share best practice, build on momentum and push things forward among decision makers and employers.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Mental health does not exist in a silo. Changing the way we as a society approach mental health, to focus on prevention and early intervention, cannot be achieved through the health and care system alone.

“It was great to sit down with business leaders to discuss the role they can play in levelling up mental health across the country ensuring everyone has the best chance possible to live healthy, happy lives.

“I urge anyone who has views on how the government and businesses can work together to promote good mental health and wellbeing to respond to our call for evidence and help shape our upcoming 10 year plan.”

Richard Sharp, VP of HR at Unilever, said:

"Mental wellbeing in the workplace could not be more important, particularly with the lessons we have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact on the mental health of employees.

“It is very encouraging to see the proposed 10 year mental health strategy, and we welcome the opportunity to engage with Ministers and officials from across government on the role that the workplace can have in improving the mental wellbeing of the nation. We look forward to contributing to a policy framework that inspires employers to prioritise good mental health."

Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and co-chair of the Thriving at Work employment review, said:

“Almost five years ago, I co-chaired the Thriving at Work review, and the UK government accepted all the core recommendations for employers, committing to embedding good mental health at work. In that time, mental health has risen up the agenda for many employers, but so too has the prevalence of poor mental health. At the height of the pandemic, in 2020/21, we surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations taking part in our Workplace Wellbeing Index. Two in five (41 per cent) told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic. For many staff, the pace of progress when it comes to promoting good mental health has been frustratingly slow.

“That’s why it was great to see so many senior leaders, employers and policymakers come together to recognise and commit to addressing poor mental health among staff. To have four Ministers from three different departments speaks volumes. But we now need to see these commitments formalised in the forthcoming cross-Government 10 year plan for mental health."

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