Employers are being encouraged to follow the City of Wolverhampton Council's lead and make a pledge to promote good mental health.
The council has this week joined a growing movement of over 900 employers across England which have signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge – a statement that organisations are committed to changing the way they think and act around mental health in the workplace.
The signing of the pledge by the council was a key recommendation of the Wolverhampton Poverty Truth Commission, a grassroots movement working with civic and business leaders to improve the lives of others.
Mental health is an issue which employers cannot afford to ignore. Time to Change estimates that a quarter of British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year, while mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence, costing on average £1,035 per employee per year.
Councillor Hazel Malcolm, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "By signing the Time to Change Employer Pledge we are making a commitment to raise awareness of – and challenge the stigma and discrimination around – mental health problems, and to ensure that people with mental health difficulties are supported at all stages of their career with us.
"There are lots of things that employers can do to help their employees enjoy good mental health, from promoting healthy working practices and policies to reduce work-related stress to creating an environment where people feel safe and supported if they need to talk about their mental health.
“It is also important that employers equip managers with the skills and confidence they need in order to speak openly and with understanding about mental health issues with their staff."
Time to Change says that 95% of employers which have signed the pledge have reported that it has had a positive impact on their organisation, and Councillor Malcolm added: "Looking after the mental health of employees makes business sense because tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates and staff retention, wellbeing and productivity.
“It's a win-win for everyone, and I would encourage other employers in Wolverhampton, large and small, to join us in taking the pledge."
The council’s Managing Director Tim Johnson said: “The health and wellbeing of our employees is a key priority for myself and the rest of the council’s senior leadership team, and we are very pleased to sign this pledge and to promote good mental health in our workplace.”
As well as signing the pledge, the council has developed an action plan which will see it establish a dedicated wellbeing working group, provide mental health first aid training to staff, appoint mental health "champions", incorporate employee wellbeing into workforce development strategies, train line managers so they feel comfortable speaking about mental health with their staff, and promote and enable physical activity within the workplace.
To find out more about the Time to Change Employer Pledge, please visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/get-your-workplace-involved/employer-pledge.
Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way people think and act about mental health problems. It is led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, Comic Relief and the National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund.