Employee benefits experts Unum and national charity the Mental Health Foundation have today announced a new long-term partnership that sees the two organisations join forces to tackle the stigma of mental health in the workplace and call on business leaders to safeguard the mental health of their employees at every stage, from prevention through to early intervention, and supporting a positive return to work.
The announcement comes during Mental Health Awareness week (16th – 22nd May), a nationwide week of action organised by The Mental Health Foundation. The theme this year is relationships – signalling the importance of connections with other people on both physical and mental health and wellbeing. To tie in with this years’ theme, which runs for the whole year, the Mental Health Foundation have dedicated the Thursday of the week (19th May) to the impact of relationships in the workplace.
The first stage of the partnership sees Unum and The Mental Health Foundation releasing a co-branded training module and infographic to help HR professionals and business leaders put mental health on the agenda. The free resource provides advice to help employers safeguard the mental health of staff, spot and address problems before they become too severe, and support staff when issues do emerge. The module ensures that line managers, a group entrusted with a key relationship within the workforce, are better equipped to provide the support needed in the workplace.
Joy Reymond, head of rehabilitation services at Unum, commented: “We are delighted to be working with the Mental Health Foundation to provide support to those in the workplace that need it. While companies increasingly understand the importance of good mental health, many managers would benefit from more support when it comes to handling and communicating these issues in the workplace. Line managers are usually the ones responsible for dealing with mental health in the workforce day to day, but many can lack the confidence or experience to manage this alone. Our modules are designed to provide additional support to those who need it.”
Mark Rowland, Director of Fundraising and Communications for the Mental Health Foundation commented: “We are delighted to be working with Unum. We need a sea change in workplace approaches to mental health and this partnership is a vital step in that direction. Everyone has mental health. We’ve all had times we felt we couldn’t cope, and times we felt we could do anything. With at least one in four of us living with a mental health problem in any given year, this is an issue that will affect every workplace. As we begin to breakdown the stigma of mental health, it is clear that a proactive approach to managing the wellbeing of colleagues is not only ethical, but it also makes business sense. We know that with the right information and support people can understand, protect and sustain their mental health. We are excited to be working with Unum to ensure research leads into good practice – giving line managers the skills and knowledge they need to promote workplace wellbeing.”
As part of the partnership, Unum and The Mental Health Foundation are also undertaking in-depth research into the economic contribution of those working with mental health issues, and exploring the barriers and coping strategies of those experiencing mental health issues in the workplace. The partnership is further evidence of Unum’s ongoing commitment to helping businesses safeguard the mental health of their employees. Mental health accounts for 17% of all Unum’s claims, second only to cancer.
Future projects will also see the pair working with big business in a debate setting to ensure that those on the front line are involved, as Unum and The Mental Health Foundation continue to strive to help combat and find solutions to mental health issues in the workplace. An estimated 1 in 4 people now experience mental health problems at some point in their life – causing over 70 million working days to be lost each year1. So enabling employers to be a part of the process of finding preventative solutions is a vital part of tackling mental health issues in the work place.
Full press release on www.unum.co.uk