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10 October 2017

Wellbeing in Small Business blog: Poppy Jaman talks mental health first aid in the workplace

Blog by Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England.

Each year around ten million adults in the UK will experience mental ill health, meaning one in four of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lifetime. Over the past year, awareness of mental health has accelerated, and more and more employers now understand that mental health is not only a serious issue for society but for businesses too.

Poppy (2)With ‘workplace’ as the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, this offers employers a valuable opportunity to address how mental health is approached in their organisations. For small businesses, particularly, a company culture that fails to address mental health issues could be detrimental to the future of your business.

Small businesses often rely on the talents of a core group of team members, so retaining these people is essential to ensuring continuity for clients and further growth. Consequently, when small businesses are under significant pressure to achieve targets, wellbeing support can often fall down the agenda and employees end up feeling under-valued rather than supported. Equally, with three in five employees experiencing mental health issues where work was a related factor, having the necessary support available in the workplace is paramount.

To prevent stress or other mental health issues affecting your team, it's important to recognise that a positive workplace culture that supports people experiencing mental health problems starts at the top. This is why line managers have such an important part to play in better supporting the mental wellbeing of employees in small businesses.

Last week, in partnership with Business in the Community and others, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England launched the Mental Health at Work Report, which revealed that only 11% of people feel able to disclose a mental health issue to their line manager.

To better support employees, transform practices and embed a whole organisational approach to workplace wellbeing, employers need to make the offer of mental health training a priority. Investing in the mental wellbeing of your employees can help retain excellent employees, allowing small businesses to grow while creating a more supportive, open culture. It makes sense, for both your staff and your bottom line.

Enlightened employers are training staff to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of their teams by becoming Mental Health First Aiders. This means that there are members of staff trained in how to recognise the symptoms of common mental health issues and can effectively guide people towards the right support.

For this year’s World Mental Health Day, we launched a ‘Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit’ which illustrates a strategic step by step process to achieving this ‘whole organisational approach’, providing a suite of resources to help facilitate this. We urge small business employers to act now and take a proactive step towards creating a mentally healthy organisation.  

For more guidance around how to approach and respond to a colleague who is experiencing a mental health issue download the free Line Managers Resource at: