Making mental health your business – starting the dialogue

According to the Centre for Mental Health, every company in Britain is affected by employees suffering with mental distress and ill health. It is estimated that one in six workers will experience depression, anxiety or other problems relating to stress. The total cost to employers is estimated at nearly £26 billion each year – equivalent to £1,035 for every employee in the UK workforce.

Monday 10 October saw the inaugural Making Mental Health Your Business event, hosted by us for World Mental Health Day. Local Shropshire employers attended the event in order to start a dialogue around mental health in the workplace.

We are a specialist organisation which supports people with disabilities and mental health needs into long-term, sustainable employment. We deliver positive, individualised support during the application process, as well as a comprehensive package of ongoing advice, guidance and support to both the jobseeker and the employer, beyond the first stages of employment.

The event was held at the Hive in Shrewsbury town center and included presentations from speakers;

  • Sandra Vaughan – Mental Health First Aid
  • Sonya Manser – Mansers Antiques
  • Jeremy Yarnell-Davies – Enable
  • Carole Burrows-Mann – CBM Life Coaching

It was chaired by Cllr Lee Chapman – Shropshire Councillor for Church Stretton and Craven Arms and Cabinet Member for Adult Services Transformation. Cllr Chapman opened the event by highlighting the main statistics that demonstrate how crucial it is for employers to look after their staff’s mental wellbeing.

Key themes of the event included communication, understanding, disclosure and acceptance. Sandra Vaughan advised employers on what triggers to look out for from their staff that could indicate they might be suffering with stress, anxiety or another mental health condition. She also encouraged employers to take the time to talk to staff and listen to any problems they may have.

Sonya Manser spoke about her personal experience of hiring someone through Enable who had a mental health condition. The speech conveyed a clear message surrounding the importance of holding back judgement on someone over first impressions. Jeremy Yarnell-Davies also shared a personal experience – this time about his own struggles with mental illness – after being told many years ago that he would never be able to work again, Jeremy now works for Enable and has seen significant improvements to his mental wellbeing due to his role.

Jeremy ended by saying: “On World Mental Health Day, we should take a moment to try to put ourselves in another person’s shoes.”

Keynote Speaker, Carole Burrows-Mann shared some of her own experiences, from working as a mental health nurse to becoming a life-coach as a result of her own struggles with mental illness. During her speech she told employers that they have to see themselves as role models to their employees and therefore have a huge responsibility to look after their own mental health as much as possible.

Attendees of the event included The Mayor, Councillor Ioan Jones and local employers such as Greenhaus, Vision Leisure, the Co-operative, NHS and Game.

Cllr Lee Chapman said: “It was really encouraging to see so many employers attending today’s event, and to learn from the speakers about how important a job, whether paid or unpaid, can be for someone with a mental health condition. Great way to champion the support and training that Enable can provide, not just on World Mental Health Day, but on every other day too.”

It is proven that employment improves mental health and wellbeing and builds self-worth,as well as bringing financial and social independence and this event demonstrated exactly that.

It makes good business sense for employers to support mental wellbeing in the work place – outcomes are enhanced when staff are healthy, motivated and focused which has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. Employers play a crucial part in the recovery rate of an employee struggling with a mental illness, particularly if it is a work related issue. It can be difficult for an employer to know what steps to take to ensure the mental wellbeing of their staff. However, just starting up a dialogue about mental health is a great start and that was certainly achieved at this event.