Did you know an estimated 300,000 people lose their job every year because of a mental health problem? That’s more than three times the capacity of Wembley Stadium. This number is shocking, but even more so because many of those people could have remained in work if they were only given the right support.
We know for many people it’s good for them to remain in their role, but it also benefits you, their employers, too.
That’s exactly why Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, and Lord Dennis Stevenson were commissioned by the Prime Minister to carry out an independent review of mental health in the workplace. The review recommended that all employers, regardless of size, adopt a set of core mental health standards.
The new Thriving at Work Leadership Council will look at how we can encourage employers to adopt these standards. Last month I attended its first ever meeting at 10 Downing Street, which brought together senior leaders from major businesses including Barclays, Unilever and National Grid to provide insight into how employers can be better engaged in mental health in the workplace.
There is already a lot of good work underway in the private sector to support people with mental health conditions, and the new Leadership Council creates a forum for Government to learn from that. It will also allow us to listen to the problems businesses are facing, allowing us to work together to find solutions.
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I know many employers have already made mental health at work a priority, but others may just be starting to think about what they can do to support their employees.
This Time to Talk Day I want to encourage businesses to commit to one action that will help to ensure all of their employees can thrive at work.
Small changes can have a big impact when it comes to mental health. Here are just five simple ideas to kick start your journey to prioritising mental health:
- Sign up to our Disability Confident scheme to get advice and support from other businesses who are already leading the way on workplace mental health.
- Visit Mind’s Mental Health at Work Gateway to search resources that could support a colleague or challenge stigma.
- Discuss with an employee whose mental health problem is affecting their work whether they would benefit from the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service.
- Download the Time to Talk conversation pack for employers for useful pointers to help you start a workplace conversation about mental health.
- Ask senior managers to hold themselves accountable by agreeing to have one of their performance-based objectives on improving mental health.
It’s vital that Government and business work together to ensure no one loses their job because of poor mental health.
If you’ve found solutions within your organisation, I would love to hear from you.
Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work.