A Midlands pilot scheme has been heralded as a positive regional approach to tackling the stigma around mental health in the workplace by the head of a major national charity.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, has praised the work of the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) following the launch of its “Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat” campaign aimed at improving the support available for mental health at work.
The comments come in the wake of a major online regional showcase event about the campaign and MHPP’s further work which featured a range of high-profile speakers including Midlands Engine Chairman Sir John Peace, attended by employers from across the Midlands.
Starting a conversation across the Midlands brought together speakers and organisations to share their experiences, knowledge and ideas around supportive workplace mental health practice, underlining how our region is leading the way when it comes to mental health.
The “Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat” campaign, created by MHPP with input from a group of ten Midlands employers as well as employees with lived experience of mental health problems, aims to give businesses and organisations across the region the help they need to encourage staff and bosses alike to open up about their mental health.
It is one of a number of initiatives and pilot trials from MHPP.
MHPP, funded by Midlands Engine, is a collaboration of Midlands universities, local authorities and experts from Mind and was launched to support employers to understand the important link between staff mental health and wellbeing, and business productivity.
Mental health problems affect one in six workers each year and are the leading cause of sickness absence.
A report by Deloitte in early 2020 found that poor mental health results in lost productivity that costs UK businesses an estimated £45 billion per year, and further studies from the University of Warwick’s Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) show that Covid-19 has made the issue of workplace mental health more important than ever.
Speaking about the work of MHPP, Paul Farmer said:
The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot is helping increase awareness of mental health at work in the Midlands among both employers and staff, helping employers understand how to better support their staff and equipping employees with the tools they need to better look after themselves.
Mind is using our workplace wellbeing expertise to support MHPP in achieving this.
Bridge The Gap, Start A Chat is all about giving Midlands employers the tools and extra encouragement they need to make a long-term change, starting with talking honestly about any issues they might be facing.
Having open conversations creates happy and healthy workplaces where staff can thrive – bringing benefits not only to their mental health, but to their employers too.
Speaking at the event Sir John Peace said:
I want to stress just how important the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot is in supporting Midlands businesses, especially during these exceptionally challenging times.
It’s why the Midlands Engine has championed the MHPP since its inception, including as a funding partner.
The work this programme is undertaking now to examine and test strategies for making the workplace an environment in which mental health is taken seriously is absolutely critical. It is the cornerstone of our regional response to mental wellbeing at work.
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