Big businesses address mental health

Aug 26, 2015

Major brands including Marks and Spencer, Mars, Proctor and Gamble, and Santander are doing more when it comes to supporting mental health in the workplace.

In this article, case studies of how big businesses in the UK are approaching mental health in the workplace reveal senior management buy-in and whole organisation approaches are keys to success.

For example, Marks and Spencer explained it had improved senior management interest in mental health by highlighting the business case for offering more proactive support to employees.

The retailer established a dedicated mental wellbeing hub on its intranet with accessible advice and resources for employees, and emphasised the fundamental relationship between physical and mental health.

In contrast, Mars focused its mental wellbeing strategy on line-manager training. It wanted to ensure line managers had the right support to take preventative action early if they spotted the warning signs that someone might be in need of support.

The food manufacturer also drove awareness around its employee assistance program and included dedicated articles in the internal magazine about why positive mental wellbeing was so important for good health.

Recently Proctor and Gamble launched a healthy minds program to coincide with signing the Time to Change (a mental health campaign in England) pledge. It is now rolling out elements of the program across the company's 19 northern Europe sites.

Meanwhile, Santander, the UK's leading personal financial services company, took a wider approach to the mental wellbeing of its workforce, including problems at home.

"We have developed new resources for people experiencing non-work related stress as this still impacts on work," said learning, talent and development director Suzanne Hughes.

"We have a partnership with the Bank Workers Charity and through that colleagues can access a broad range of personal support services to help them manage non-work related issues.

"It has been important to show that we take the wellbeing agenda seriously at every level of the business, and especially right at the top. We have introduced new modules for leadership programs, covering such topics as understanding people, the impact of leaders on their teams and absence management," she added.

However, despite an increase in support for mentally healthy workplaces, results from an Axa PPP Healthcare survey of 1,000 senior managers and 1,000 other employees reveal stigma still exists at the top of businesses, with:

  • 69 per cent of senior business managers and owners not believing suffering from stress, anxiety or depression was a serious enough reason for employees to be off work.
  • 46 per cent of workers thinking their employer didn't take mental health issues seriously.

Why should your business take action on mental health? Find out about the costs of poor mental health.

Estimate the ROI for creating a mentally healthy workplace.

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