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As the fastest growing city in the UK, Leeds boasts over 119,000 companies which together generate 5% of England’s economic output with a workforce of 1.37 million. However, it should never be forgotten that behind these impressive figures are individual workers – each with their own challenges and struggles.

According to a recent survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind, poor mental health affects half of all employees – that’s around 700,000 workers in our region alone. Mental health in the workplace is a national concern. New figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for example, reveal that work-related stress, anxiety or depression now account for over half of all sickness absence in the UK for the first time ever.

Bearing this in mind, it is now crucial that business leaders in Leeds and Yorkshire develop and implement strategies to ensure that there is a safety net in place to catch workers who may be at risk of becoming unwell. And investing in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for employees is a logical first step.

In our own experience as a business, mental health conditions can have devastating consequences if not addressed. The rise of the gig-economy means that there is now a dangerous gap in care for non-permanent workers, who are most at risk of falling through the cracks amid uncertainty around who is responsible for the occupational health of these individuals.

In 2017, we were rocked to the core when one of our contractors – a young father from Bradford – sadly took his own life. I cannot help but think that if one of our own team, or someone at the company where he was working, had been trained in MHFA, we may have been able to spot the tell-tale signs that something was wrong.

From this sad event, we have ensured that all our consultants are trained in Mental Health First Aid, and we are urging other businesses to do the same. By doing so, they are better equipped to spot the signs of workplace stress or anxiety, such as frequent absenteeism, erratic behaviour or a fall in productivity. It’s crucial that organisations have trained professionals on the ground who are available to support all workers – regardless of which employment model they’re working through.

Previous research from Mind found that over half (56%) of employers would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing, but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance. MHFA training offers clear, practical guidelines and trains people how to listen, give reassurance and information, and encourage appropriate professional help to colleagues who may be suffering.

There is no doubt that employers have a moral duty to support the mental health of their workforces, and investing in MHFA has the potential to save not only money – it could also save lives. With this in mind, we will be providing accredited MHFA workshops at our offices in Leeds during 2019. Our in-house trainers are fully qualified and affiliated MHFA instructors.

To find out more about these training courses, please email helen.lambert@theworksrec.co.uk. All our mental health training courses are delivered by our in-house MHFA experts who are fully qualified and affiliated MHFA instructors.

 

Craig Burton

The Works Recruitment