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Wellbeing for your workforce

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Tackling mental health is integral to both your workforce and your business.

Employers are now expected to include a mental health strategy as part of their first aid and wellbeing policy – and businesses will benefit from taking their workforce wellness seriously.

The human cost to someone with mental health problems is high. But so is the cost to businesses and the economy. Absenteeism in the UK due to mental health alone costs the economy between £70bn and £100bn every year, with 71 million working days lost annually; that’s a staggering amount.

On a daily basis, having someone off sick has an impact on any business, regardless of the size. But for smaller companies, the importance of the individual is greater because often, they don’t have people to step into a role if someone is off sick.

As well as running Umbrella Training & Development, I am a Mental Health First Aid England instructor. The MHFA course is amazingly beneficial and, at £300 per person, comes at incredible value – especially compared with what companies could potentially lose. Sending 10 people on the course is the same amount of money it would cost a company if a senior manager on £40,000 a year was off for a month with depression.

I had depression myself for a number of years, argues that there is still a lot of stigma attached to admitting you suffer from it – especially among men. As a result many people are afraid to tell their employer they’re mentally unwell – and with 15 people a day in the UK choosing to end their lives, it really is something we need to deal with.

If you walk into the office with a broken arm you get sympathy and understanding because it’s visible. The problem with anxiety and depression is that you can’t see it.

Sending employees on a course won’t work if the culture of the business is what’s making people sick in the first place. Training people to support colleagues who might have depression is like putting on a plaster unless businesses get buy-in from the board. Directors need to be conscious of the effect their behaviours have on people and ensure the culture is an open one without stigma and discrimination around mental health.

KAREN MCLELLAN, Managing Director, Haines Watts Hereford – who recently completed a two day mental health first aider course with Phil – says she found it an eye-opening experience.

I attended a two-day course run by Phil to qualify as a mental health first aider on behalf of Mental Health First Aid England. Some very challenging subjects were covered – from stress and depression right through to self-harm, psychosis and suicide.

I was blown away by the staggering numbers of people who are affected by metal health issues and am now of the opinion that everyone, at some point in their lives, will be afflicted by something that would fall under the broad umbrella of mental health.

Wellness is linked to productivity. Given the amount of sick days and presenteeism that businesses face, it is becoming increasingly important to not only ensure our teams are supported with mental health issues as well as with their physical health, but also to remove the stigma attached to talking about such issues.

The course was superb and I’d highly recommend it. I am delighted to be able to bring these skills back to Haines Watts.

Absenteeism in the UK due to mental health alone costs the economy between £70bn and £100bn every year, with 71 million working days lost annually; that’s a staggering amount.


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