Men­tal health prob­lems tak­ing a huge toll on jobs.

Con­fer­ence told 300,000 posts are lost ev­ery year

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Greg Wright DEPUTY BUSI­NESS ED­I­TOR @greg­wrightyp

AROUND 300,000 peo­ple with long-term men­tal health prob­lems lose their jobs each year, a ma­jor busi­ness event was told.

The Thriv­ing Minds con­fer­ence high­lighted the dev­as­tat­ing eco­nomic con­se­quences of fail­ing to in­vest in men­tal health train­ing.

Guests at the event, which was hosted by Thrive Law, a spe­cial­ist em­ploy­ment law firm, heard that the an­nual cost to em­ploy­ers from fail­ing to sup­port staff with men­tal health prob­lems was around £54bn.

Over half this cost was due to “pre­sen­teeism”, when peo­ple are less pro­duc­tive due to poor men­tal health.

The con­fer­ence heard from speak­ers who sup­ported the cre­ation of a re­gional men­tal health czar with de­volved pow­ers to im­ple­ment poli­cies to im­prove men­tal health around York­shire.

The con­fer­ence was told that the over­all rate of work­place sick­ness since 2009 was down by be­tween 15 to 20 per cent.

How­ever, ab­sences due to men- tal health prob­lems over the same pe­riod had risen by five per cent. Fail­ure to sup­port the ris­ing num­bers of staff with men­tal health prob­lems also has an im­pact on the pub­lic fi­nances. Bil­lions of pounds are lost in tax rev­enue, ben­e­fits and NHS costs.

The con­fer­ence, which was held at the Man­sion in Round­hay, Leeds, heard that a num­ber of ma­jor em­ploy­ers have trained their staff to be­come men­tal health first aiders.

The in­tro­duc­tion of men­tal health first aiders could lead to a more en­gaged and pro­duc­tive work­force, the con­fer­ence was told.

This, in turn, cre­ated a rip­ple ef­fect that could make the UK’s econ­omy more com­pet­i­tive and in­clu­sive.

Founded by manag­ing di­rec­tor Jodie Hill, Thrive Law sup­ports poli­cies to pro­mote well­be­ing at work.

Ms Hill has es­tab­lished a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign to make men­tal health first aiders com­pul­sory in the work­place. The cam­paign is gain­ing na­tional trac­tion, with high-pro­file in­di­vid­u­als such as Alas­tair Camp­bell en­dors­ing it on so­cial me­dia. The event was told that a num­ber of York­shire busi­nesses had en­joyed eco­nomic ben­e­fits af­ter train­ing dozens of men­tal health first aiders.

Ms Hill said the con­fer­ence aimed to fo­cus on the hu­man im­pact of fail­ing to have poli­cies that sup­port peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems.

She added: “The ‘Thriv­ing Minds’ con­fer­ence was cre­ated to raise aware­ness of the im­por­tance of en­abling both em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees to thrive in the work­place.

“The ob­jec­tive of the day is to em­power busi­ness own­ers with the skills and tools that they need to cre­ate a good work­ing cul­ture that is fo­cused on well­be­ing and pos­i­tive men­tal health.

“We need to fun­da­men­tally change the way we sup­port our work­force and start to im­ple­ment the rec­om­mended core stan­dards which will en­able both our team and busi­ness to thrive.”

The speak­ers in­cluded Fiona Deven­ney of Leeds Mind, who pro­vided a 10-step tool kit to help em­ploy­ers im­prove the men­tal health of their staff.

She said: “It’s by em­ploy­ers and for em­ploy­ers. We take our leads from where you are at as em­ploy­ers. Ev­ery­one is on a jour­ney. Some peo­ple are fur­ther along than oth­ers.

“We work with you to look at where ex­actly you’re at and where you as­pire to be.

“You know your com­pany and you know your staff. It’s not one size fits all, it’s about look­ing at your own cul­tures and your own in­ter­nal cul­tures. It’s about safe peo­ple and not scary places.”

Ms Deven­ney added: “Young peo­ple to­day are more con­fi­dent about talk­ing about men­tal health, but there’s also a big gen­er­a­tion who don’t feel com­fort­able about talk­ing about men­tal health.

“So it’s about cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple and mak­ing it safe for them to come for­ward.”

It’s not one size fits all, it’s about look­ing at your own cul­tures.

PIC­TURES: JAMES HARDISTY

VI­TAL IS­SUES:Above, Jodie Hill, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Thrive Law. In­set, Mi­haela Gruia, Re­search Re­told founder.

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