Big businesses commit to mental health care in the workplace

John Lewis Partnership, Deloitte, Santander, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Institute of Directors (IoD)) commit to mental health care.

Some of the UK’s leading businesses and non-governmental figures have signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment, a set of standards for the industry which launched on October 21.

“There are no quick fixes, or simple solutions when it comes to mental health. Yet there’s no ignoring the fact that work is often a contributory factor for people whose mental health is suffering,” said Barclays UK chairman Sir Ian Cheshire reported in CityA.M.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment builds on the Thriving at Work standards, launched in 2017, using up-to-date research, from UK employers and mental health experts. As part of their commitment, businesses will routinely monitor employee’s mental health and promote “effective people management through line managers and supervisors.”

According to new research from ADP, a third of employees (31%) wouldn’t feel comfortable disclosing a mental health issue to anybody at work, and two thirds (61%) believe that their employer isn’t interested in their mental health.

Jonathan Richards, CEO and co-founder of HR software provider, Breathe, said:  “The introduction of these schemes is crucial considering the sharp increase in stress and mental health-related problems over the last few years.

“City businesses and non-governmental figures signing up to this new Mental Health at Work commitment confirms that the physical and mental strain of the digital age is finally being taken seriously which is great to see. And while this scheme is a positive step in the right direction, it’s important businesses don’t consider this alone as a box-ticking exercise they have now completed.

“Much of the negative impact on mental health stems from the fact that with all the digital inter-connectivity, we’re stuck in this ‘always on’ culture where work worries are only a tap away on your smartphone. It’s become increasingly difficult to switch off and decompress as a result.

“The recent YouGov survey indicated that 51% of people are still feeling apprehensive about speaking openly on mental health challenges, and we must continue to try and permanently change this. Indeed, our research earlier this year uncovered that British workers are still uncomfortable disclosing mental health issues or burnout, with almost a quarter (23%) admitting they’d rather take an unexplained sick day than discuss their issues with their employer. The stigma is not only outdated but is quite literally damaging, so it’s nice to see organisations with influential power taking this seriously and signing up to the commitment.”
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