Mental health is often invisible - remaining a hidden battle for many people. Although you might not realise it, statistics suggest that you almost certainly have people in your life who either have experienced, or are experiencing mental health problems.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem each year; 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition. The struggle is common.
This is a big deal for individuals because our state of mental wellness affects our ability to be our best selves. This is also a big deal for business as mental ill-health costs business money, with the cost to the economy of poor mental health estimated to be £9bn.
Thankfully, we are seeing a new wave of innovation emerging which is embracing this problem.
Nesta, as an Innovation Foundation, places much focus on social change and innovation, working on a number of programmes that explore how mental health can be better supported.
Through our Inclusive Economy Partnership programme we are supporting a number of grant winners who provide practical tools to support improved mental wellbeing in the workplace for employees. These include Thrive Therapeutic Software Limited, a mobile app combining interventions to improve resilience and enable users to self-manage mild anxiety and depression, and This is Me, a campaign to create mentally healthy workplaces.
Back in February we hosted Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, to share findings of the landmark Farmer/Stevenson Thriving at Work report. This crucial piece, commissioned by government, underlines how and why the workplace must now work to improve mental health of all employees and details six “mental health core standards” to support and guide employers to nourish mental wellness at work.
However, we at Nesta have been uncharacteristically behind the curve when it comes to deliberately developing our own mentally healthy workplace.
We are now taking steps to ensure we are practicing our values internally as well as externally. Our action plan is varied and long term: we will normalise conversation of mental wellbeing. Amongst many actions to be trialled, we've started with mental health awareness training for all employees from senior leadership to interns. We’ve joined others and committed through our Time to Change pledge.
Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, Nesta will have over 30 Mental Health First Aiders trained by June this year. This is Nesta’s small but important contribution to Public Health England's One Million Mental Health First Aiders campaign. It’s been a great kick off with feedback from our Mental Health First Aiders being overwhelmingly positive.
So, as an organisation on the start of its journey, we have key learnings from our first cohorts of Mental Health First Aiders we'd like to share:
What's crucial here is that these are skills that need repetitive training, and so we hope to encourage your employer on this journey too.
With Mental Health Awareness Week almost upon us, now is the time to hold space for acceptance and embrace the continuum of mental health - allowing employees to thrive. Why wait?