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Businesses ‘can do more on mental health’

Jenny Heyes, people consultant at Napthens

Not enough is being done to encourage businesses to support positive mental health in the workplace.

This is the message from attendees at a major wellbeing conference held by regional law firm Napthens who were surveyed following the event.

In total, 70 per cent of attendees felt not enough is being done about the issue, becoming increasingly important in modern workplaces.

Mental health charity Mind reports that at least one in six workers experience common mental health problems including anxiety and depression, with ‘work’ the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives – more so than debt or financial problems.

Conference attendees were questioned for their feedback following the event, held recently at Stanley House Hotel, near Preston and featuring a variety of expert speakers on the issue of mental health in the workplace.

A majority of respondents also reported that the increase in focus by businesses on wellbeing is probably helping to reduce staff absences and increase productivity.

Jenny Heyes, people consultant at Napthens, said: “Health and safety in the workplace is clearly not just about limiting physical hazards anymore.

“Most businesses we speak to are aware of the importance of their staff’s mental health but in many cases they may not know how best to approach this. There is a tendency to fall back on the classic example of offering free fruit in the workplace when actually there is so much more that can be done.

“Our survey has highlighted many great examples of how workplaces are offering genuine support to staff – these include everything from introducing a company wellbeing strategy to holding yoga and meditation sessions, to ensuring that management have an open-door policy.

“Here at Napthens for example, we have invested in training, with a number of staff becoming qualified Mental Health First Aiders.

“It’s clear that more must be done at a national level but the potential is there. It’s great to see so many businesses in this region embracing strategies and clearly willing to put the health of their staff first and foremost, realising this can help create a truly engaged and highly productive workforce.”