The UK government has written to the public to outline the ways in which businesses can support their staff following the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also asked companies across the country to promote their own initiatives to their employees to help support mental recovery from lockdowns and mental distress.
In a published letter on the government website, Paul Scully MP, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets and Minister for London, writes: “COVID-19 has affected all our lives and our livelihoods in profound ways over the last year. The nation has come together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, but there has been a cost.”
Signposted To The Government’s COVID-19 Mental Health Plan
Scully goes on to write that measures such as lockdowns have triggered “feelings of worry, distress or loneliness for many of us.”
“In response to these challenges, you may have seen that the government has recently published our COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Action Plan,” he continues. “This sets out our ambitious, cross-government approach to promoting positive mental health and supporting people living with mental illness to recover and live well.”
Published on 27 March 2021, the Government’s COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Action Plan outlines how different groups of society has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how it has helped those groups. Some of the groups include volunteers, young children, women, social care staff and those with long-COVID.
Small Business Impacted By Financial Insecurity Worries
Scully touches on how the pandemic has also affected small businesses, especially when it comes to financial insecurity. “I care greatly about the health of our businesses and the impact of the past year on the wellbeing of businesses and individuals,” he writes. “From workers and employees to business leaders and those running their own companies.
“Through my ongoing engagement with businesses and representative organisations, I have been acutely aware of the impact on those facing financial insecurity, for example. This is of particular concern as we know there is a clear and well-established relationship between financial insecurity and poor mental health.”
Poor Mental Health Costs UK Economy Over £74 Billion A Year
According to the MP’s open letter, poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year. In addition to this, it costs the UK economy between £74 billion and £99 billion per year. Because of this, the MP writes that “supporting mental health in the workplace has never been more important.”
“…I fully recognise and value the role that employers play when they take positive action to provide workplace mental health and wellbeing support to their staff,” Scully says. “I wanted to therefore ask for your support. I know many of you have specific tools and programmes in place to promote positive mental health and support individuals, and I would encourage you to take this opportunity to promote this to your membership.”
However, the MP also explains that he understands that some organisations don’t have access to their own resources. He uses the open letter to promote existing options. These include:
- Mind, the mental health charity has developed the Mental Health at Work website
- Mental Health at Work includes a toolkit with advice and resources especially for small businesses
- Money Advice Service—free and impartial advice about issues relating to money or debt
Businesses can also read Make A Difference Media resources on mental health such as: How To Spot Signs of Low Mental Health in Workplace; Do Wellbeing Initiatives Make Employees Feel Worse? or What 2020 Taught Us About Workplace Mental Health.