Starting the Conversation

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Thu 17th, May

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (14 to 20 May) which this year is focussing on stress. Many businesses across the city region already have programmes in place, recognising that mental health and wellbeing is a core business asset but collectively are we doing enough?  

According to the Mental Health Foundation, over the past year almost three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. With two thirds of us likely to experience a mental health problem and stress a key factor (often leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide), employers have an increasingly important role to play in recognising the symptoms and developing internal policies which look at prevention as well as support.

Stress can also manifest itself in other ways, for example 46% of those surveyed reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress; 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.

Whilst awareness is growing there is still more that we can all do, not just as responsible employers, but also because it makes good business sense with the value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems estimated to be as high as £225 billion per year, representing 12.1% of the UK's total GDP. There is also strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive, increasing productivity by as much as 12%.

There is a range of support available for both employers and employees, including some innovative initiatives developed by our members. For example, Mashbo, who worked in partnership with Chasing the Stigma, a mental health charity, to launch The Hub of Hope in July 2017. This is the first of its kind, national mental health database which brings together organisations and charities, large and small, from across the country who offer mental health advice and support, together in one place. Just six months after its launch the web-based app received over 10,000 unique visits from 751 different cities and towns across 59 countries

Looking forward we are delighted to be working with our strategic partners Merseycare, to develop a joint programme of mental health and wellbeing support for employers over the next six months.

The Hub of Hope’s key message is that there is always somebody to talk to, so let’s use the opportunities provided by Mental Health Awareness Week to start those conversations that really matter to us all - as an employer, a family member, a friend or a work colleague.

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