Mental health is a priority subject area for the Chamber and following a call to action from Rt Hon Theresa May in November 2020, the Chamber has launched, ‘Building a positive mental wellbeing culture’, a series of case studies based on work that organisations and businesses have done to improve the mental wellbeing of their employees.
The report raises awareness of the role and benefits of businesses in promoting and supporting good employee mental health. It has been driven by the Mental Health Charter Steering Committee, where local experts have generously gifted their time to support the Chamber in this work.
The report was launched at Windsor Castle, on Friday 26th November, at the Chambers’ Annual Dinner, by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, who said, “I am delighted that the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce continue to prioritise mental health and wellbeing through the mental health charter, webinars and this new publication.
Many companies have already signed up to the mental health charter which I launched in October 2020 and I would encourage more to do so to benefit from the great work that the Chamber is doing in this area”.
The report highlights the how organisations and businesses have reduced stigma of mental ill health and found innovative solutions to the challenges posed with embedding a positive mental wellbeing culture. Contributors have generously shared their contact details in order to build a library of good practice that the chamber holds, and members can benefit from.
What participants said
“The company recognised that mental ill health cases sometimes only became apparent when colleagues were seeking medical support. It was important to equip leaders to become more proactive in identifying and supporting colleagues in the business at an earlier stage and to provide an environment where talking about mental ill health was easier. Variety is also important; employees are individuals and giving them options or different types of the same service means appealing to the widest audience”. Yvonne McCann, Bayer PLC, Country Head HSE UK/I
“It was important to look at new ways to prioritise wellbeing, not just through a pandemic, but also offering continuing support in this area. People became more empowered, honest, and open about their mental health. A safer environment for all was created that it is “ok not to be ok”. Alison Kerr, Global Employee Experience Manager, Travelport
“We received an overwhelmingly positive response. The key gating hurdle for any organisation is creating an environment where some of the team are prepared to be vulnerable in front of others in order to trigger the start of a conversation. Therefore, it was important to make sure that people understood that talking about mental health was key to this”. Andrew Thurman-Pickett, Senior manager and Group Leader, Reading Audit, PwC.
“Variety is very important; employees are individuals and giving them options or different types of the same service means appealing to the widest audience. In 2020 RBWM ran a staff engagement survey, with a 68% response rate and 81% of respondents saying that they felt that the Council supported their wellbeing at work”. Karin Zussman-Ward, Lead HR Policy and Reward Advisor, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead.
“I can honestly say that this saved me. There is no quick fix when experiencing poor mental health; it is draining in every way possible, and this should never be underestimated. Recovery is not a linear process; there are bumps along the way, some of which are small and some of which are significant. However, at every point, I knew that I had both HR and my line manager behind me, supporting me, and rooting for my recovery. Joe (pseudonym to protect identity of employee quoted), Fugro.
In England, the subsequent mental health challenge has been estimated, that up to 10 million people (almost 20% of the population), will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic. (Centre for Mental Health, 2020)