New support to help improve mental health & wellbeing for businesses

14 Sep 2020

A new support programme is offering West of England employers help to respond to mental health concerns in the workplace, particularly those arising from Covid-19.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is investing in the two-year Thrive at Work West of England programme, which aims to address the key mental health issues that businesses say are affecting their employees, and impacting productivity.

The package of support, including training resources, is available through WECA’s West of England Growth Hub website. It includes mental health e-learning to equip managers with the confidence and skills to have supportive conversations with their staff about mental health and wellbeing, particularly in these challenging and changing times.

The training is funded by WECA and will be targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses and ethnic minority-led companies to help support those who may have been impacted the most by Covid-19.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “Mental health and wellbeing can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, and the wider economy. Following the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve listened to businesses to find out what help they need and I’m supporting them in their recovery.

“Thrive at Work West of England is the latest in a package of measures I’ve announced to help support our region’s economy and people’s jobs following the pandemic. It will help businesses across the West of England to support the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and respond to the impacts of coronavirus on mental health.

“Our businesses and workers need help and support from a trusted source during these difficult times. Therefore it’s reassuring that the e-learning content has been written by Mind, a leading authority on mental health.”

Mental health is an issue that can have a huge impact upon individuals, their employers and the wider economy. Research carried out across the UK in August found that:

  • 39% of people said their well-being was being affected by the pandemic – through stress, anxiety, boredom and loneliness; of these, 9% reported that they were worried about a possible job loss and 9% said they were worried about returning to work
  • 47% of workers said their work was affected by the pandemic (including furlough, changes in working hours and remote working)
  • 22% reported that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was affecting their household finances, and amongst this group reduced income was most commonly reported (66%)
  • 25% expected their financial position to get worse over the next 12 months. Source: ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (26-30 August)

Thrive at Work West of England is a collaboration between the West of England Combined Authority, Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, the mental health charity Mind, plus businesses and organisations in the Thriving at Work regional network and the unions.

It builds on Thrive programmes in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and is aligned to the Thrive network across the UK. The programme aims to help create mentally healthy workplaces in through supporting the region’s employers with information, tools and training.

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “Open and supportive workplaces benefit everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line, it’s about creating a culture where staff feel able to talk about mental health. It is now more important than ever that staff are listened to and know that they are valued.

“This programme of activity will help employers in the West of England to respond to mental health concerns in the workplace, particularly those arising from Covid-19. It’s great to see this happening at a regional level”.

The Thrive at Work West of England programme offers mental health and wellbeing training and resources aimed at businesses and staff, including:

  • Guidance for business leaders to adopt the Mental Health at Work Commitment and implement Mental Health At Work Core Standards.
  • Support to create wellness action plans using templates developed by Mind
  • Free suicide prevention training
  • Toolkits and resources shared by employers including local businesses involved in Thrive Bristol
  • Offers of peer support from businesses to help smaller companies learn from others’ experience of what works to improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Thrive at Work West of England is part of the West of England Combined Authority’s targeted business support programme to help kick-start the regional economy following the coronavirus outbreak. WECA’s wider economic development activity includes a range of business support, skills and employment initiatives. Thrive at Work, and other packages of support, can be accessed through WECA’s regional Growth Hub support offer which has been expanded to help businesses through Covid-19.

WECA’s focus is on rebuilding a strong regional economy, to enable long-term recovery for the West of England. The aim is to help businesses build their financial resilience, innovate and adopt best practice, and boost their productivity.