Businesses across the Midlands are being offered the chance to boost productivity by working with the University of Derby to provide better mental health support for employees.
The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot will see the implementation of new workplace interventions at pilot organisations and the rollout of existing approaches in small, medium and large businesses across the Midlands Engine region.
The programme, which is funded by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, aims to:
- contribute to the reduction of mental health distress
- break down the barriers to accessing care faced by people experiencing mental illness
- support their continuation in and return to work
- make a positive contribution to organisational productivity, in terms of wellbeing and economic outcomes
Dr Paula Holt, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health and Social Care at the University of Derby, said: “The cost to the economy of mental health across the Midlands could be in excess of £45bn this year. Yet research shows that for every £1 invested in supporting the mental health of employees, the return to the employer in productivity is £5. Those returns are greater still when employers take preventative, rather than reactive steps to help their staff.”
Around 1,900 employers took part in the first phase of project, exploring the issues of how mental health and wellbeing are currently dealt with in the workplace and its impact on performance.
Around a third of those taking part reported sickness absence among staff due to mental health issues, and a similar proportion recorded presenteeism, particularly in the hospitality and business services sectors.
Factors negatively affecting mental health of employees include:
- Lone or remote working
- Client expectations on time, quality and cost
- Job insecurity
- Recruitment practices
Dr Holt added: “A healthy and inclusive workplace is essential for all businesses, so providing appropriate support for employees, creating a culture of openness and tackling discrimination and stigma, will help to remove some of the barriers to growth and development for firms.
“The research we have carried out shows that employers recognise that understanding how to address mental health issues effectively can boost morale, engagement and motivation, but also reveals that they are not always sure where to obtain the help they need.”
The pilot will link employers directly to initiatives such as Every Mind Matters, This is Me and Mental Health First Aid, which all provide expert guidance.
Once embedded into an organisation, the guidance aims to help reduce the prevalence of mental health difficulties and increase productivity among the workforce.
The University is now offering businesses of all sizes and from all sectors in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Stoke and Staffordshire, Shrewsbury and Shropshire, and Herefordshire the opportunity to work with them integrate effective mental health provision into their organisation.
Training courses which not only help to raise awareness but could be used to support continuing professional development (CPD) are also available.
Businesses taking part will be asked to commit to an initial meeting to discuss how the programme would work for their company, creating a roadmap for its success, and promoting their commitment to the pilot in the workplace.
To find out more about the pilot, visit their website: https://www.derby.ac.uk/business-services/midlands-engine-mental-health-and-productivity-pilot/.
 Employee well-being, mental health and productivity in Midlands firms: The employer perspective A baseline study for the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot project” Enterprise Research Centre Research Report, May 2020