At the Mad World Summit, I gave an overview of the Business in the Community (BITC) fourth Mental Health at Work 2019 report, produced in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits and BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership Team.
Informed by a national, statistically valid YouGov panel, the report gives a snapshot of the state of the nation’s mental health at work and provides a barometer to track progress.
In the past few years, we’ve seen growing momentum around the tangible need for mental health improvements from the Government and mental health stakeholders, including employers. The Stevenson Farmer review has stressed the critical importance of helping employees to thrive at work.
While strides have been made in some areas of the workplace, this isn’t translating into mainstream action. Support for mental health is undermined by working conditions being a major cause of mental health issues. 2 in 5 (39%) of employees have experienced poor mental health due to work, or where work was a contributing factor and in the past year this has increased.
Mainstreaming mental health as ‘business as usual’ has still got a long way to go, and in some areas the stigma is getting worse with 51% of employees, down from 54% in 2018, feeling comfortable about talking about mental health issues at work.
A profound cultural shift is paramount so that work itself doesn’t cause poor mental health. We won’t achieve parity between physical and mental health until more employers take ownership over their role and create workplaces that enhance positive mental health.
The purpose of Business in the Community’s Wellbeing Leadership Team is to build a movement that is committed to positioning health and wellbeing as strategic boardroom issues, with a particular focus on mental health, to drive collective action through evidence-based, practical solutions.
BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership Team has been working alongside the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to develop an employer Mental Health Commitment. The Council and Wellbeing Leadership Teams are made up of leading employers across the private, public and voluntary sector, along with leading industry bodies and experts in mental health.
Monday 21st October marked the launch of this Mental Health at Work Commitment. In a crowded and confusing marketplace, the Commitment is a simple umbrella framework to improve mental health at work. It draws together key activity, which employers have tried and tested, and provides a simple, practical way for employers to navigate the complex workplace mental health landscape. The three calls to action highlighted in the Mental Health at Work 2019 report are aligned to the six standards in the Commitment along with stretch recommendations for leaders.
The commitment is key to driving collective action through evidence-based, practical solutions to build a movement, so all employees can succeed and thrive at work. Simply, the commitment will enable employers to improve mental health at work.
As like-minded organisations, that recognise the importance of mental health in the workplace, we would like to ask you to be some of the first employers to join us on this journey and obtain support from your Chief Executive to sign up and take action. Details of how to do this can found on the Mental Health at Work website.
About the Author
Louise Aston is Wellbeing Director for Business in the Community. In the context of responsible business, the aim of BITC’s Wellbeing Campaign is to create environments where individuals and organisations can be at their best by taking a preventative, whole person, joined up approach to physical, mental, financial and social health.