New support to improve mental health in the workplace

A new support programme is helping West of England employers to respond to mental health concerns in the workplace – especially as a result of COVID-19. 

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is investing in the two-year Thrive at Work West of England programme with a package of support, including training resources.

This is looking to address the key mental health issues businesses say are affecting their employees – and impacting on productivity.

The support package available through WECA’s West of England Growth Hub website includes mental health e-learning provided by charity MIND – to help managers have conversations with their staff about mental health and wellbeing.

The training will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and ethnic minority-led companies – who may have been affected most by Covid-19.

It will include guidance for business leaders to adopt the Mental Health at Work Commitment and Mental Health At Work Core Standards – as well as free suicide prevention training and support to create wellness action plans.

The new programme follows research by the Office for National Statistics in which 39 per cent of people said their wellbeing was being affected by the pandemic, 47 per cent found it impacted on their work and 22 per cent reported the outbreak was affecting their finances. ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (26-30 August)

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “…Thrive at Work West of England is the latest in a package of measures I’ve announced to help support our region’s economy and people’s jobs following the pandemic.

“It will help businesses across the West of England to support the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and respond to the impacts of coronavirus on mental health…” 

Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, Emma Mamo, said: “Open and supportive workplaces benefit everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line, it’s about creating a culture where staff feel able to talk about mental health. It is now more important than ever that staff are listened to and know that they are valued…” 

Bristol’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, said she welcomed the launch of the new programme at this time.

She said: “Bristol led the way in the region by launching ‘Thrive’ last year, and also by being the first city in the UK to sign-up to the new Mental Health at Work Commitment.

“Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and we know that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on people’s lives and mental wellbeing, so this programme is even more important now as we navigate economic uncertainty. Together, with our partners in the region, we are working to support and promote healthy workplaces where people can thrive.”