How has your working week started? Well - we hope, because work is the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives – more so than financial problems - according to the mental health charity Mind. Their research shows that, at least one in six workers experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Sadly, people in Bristol have higher levels of poor mental health than the England average.
It is estimated that over £280 million is lost each year by businesses and employers in Bristol due to absenteeism, reduced productivity and staff turnover due to mental health issues.
On top of already relatively high levels of poor mental health in the city, the pandemic then hit, impacting further on people’s wellbeing with the affects likely to be far-reaching and long-lasting. With issues of isolation, insecurity, and fatigue hitting the workforce, employee wellbeing became more of a priority for many organisations, but addressing the issue has been a significant challenge with more and more people needing to access mental health services.
Employers across the city have come together in a One City approach to tackle this issue, and through the Thrive Bristol programme they share good practice around improving workplace mental health, and aim to provide support for everyone in the city, with a focus on those with the greatest needs.
To support businesses and the workforce and to help mitigate the risks to employee mental health at this particularly difficult time, Thrive at Work West of England was developed as part of the Thrive Bristol programme, in partnership between WECA, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, employers, unions, Mind and other agencies and specialist charities.
Alex Serjeant from Changes Bristol feels that there is more awareness about mental health in the general public and businesses as a whole, but there is still a long way to go in terms of education to ensure the perceived stigma around mental health is tackled.
"Awareness doesn’t necessarily translate to knowledge and some businesses can be quite clumsy in the ways that they approach certain subjects. This is why charities such as ourselves have been talking directly to businesses and running training sessions on mental health awareness and how to affect their workforce.”
Voscur is supporting the VCSE sector in a number of ways to improve wellbeing for their communities and employees. Later in the year we are running a course called Being a Good Employer where along with providing an overview of your statutory and legal responsibilities, we will identify ways to improve your employment offer and provide a healthy and productive workplace, to make a significant difference to your organisational effectiveness by supporting your team members’ wellbeing.