City employers join forces to improve mental health: BD12392 Thriving City Conference 1 CB Bristol Design 2019 (1)

01 Nov 2019

Public Health

City employers join forces to improve mental health

New programme to support city's employers and employees

Organisations from across Bristol are launching a new programme to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their employees, and to support other organisations to do the same.

Mental health is an issue that can have a huge impact upon individuals, their employers and the wider economy. 39%[1] of employees have described work as having contributed to their mental health issue over the past 12 months, and 49% don’t feel comfortable talking to their line manager about their own mental health. With one in four people dealing with a mental health issue, it’s likely that many of our colleagues may be struggling.

Bristol’s employers are now joining together to strengthen the support available for employees across the city.

Linking with the national Thriving at Work Leadership Council, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Department of Health and Social Care, and mental health charity Mind, Bristol has become the first city in the country to sign up to the new Mental Health at Work Commitment. It provides a framework of support for employers wanting to take action.

A range of local employers are making this commitment, from large companies like Burges Salmon to smaller organisations like Windmill Hill City Farm, with the aim of at least 50 Bristol employers signing up over the year ahead. 

Building upon this commitment, city employers are launching a new programme of work at the Thriving at Work Bristol conference (1pm, 4 November) to put in place and evaluate extra support needed to create mentally healthy workplaces. They are inviting employers across the city to get involved in testing new approaches in their own workplaces and then sharing what they have found.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig said: “Our mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that we create healthy workplaces where people are supported to thrive.

“I’m thrilled that here in Bristol we are the first city in the country to sign the Mental Health at Work Commitment. Our local employers are taking the lead by chairing a programme which will offer more mental health support for organisations, which in turn could have a meaningful impact on the wellbeing of thousands of employees across our city.

“Alongside helping our city employers to make improvements, we have strengthened our efforts within Bristol City Council – such as rolling out Mental Health First Aid training to help ensure that all staff can get the right support when they need it.”

Thriving at Work Bristol is an innovative approach being chaired by leads in Deloitte, Hargreaves Lansdown and OVO Energy, with employers supporting other local organisations to make improvements in their workplaces and across the city.

A report, Thriving at Work Bristol, is also being launched at the event. Created by 25 Bristol-based organisations and unions, it identifies what is working well locally and what needs to change to better support employees.

Stephen Harris, Trading Director at OVO Energy and director level sponsor for mental health across the OVO Group, said:  “I'm excited to support the Thriving at Work Bristol initiative and to continue to work to improve mental health and wellbeing at OVO. With our HQ in the heart of the city, and as one of Bristol's largest employers, we want to support efforts to create mentally healthy workplaces in our city. I'm looking forward to leading an action group tasked with identifying and testing interventions to improve culture and behaviour in the workplace, and seeing the impact we can have by enabling businesses to better support their teams."

Karen Cooke, Senior HR Business Partner at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “I am proud to be one of the city partners working on the Thriving at Work Bristol project. I care passionately about mental health in the workplace and really back companies that are doing their best to support colleagues to thrive. It really is a win-win for any business because when you spend time investing in the wellbeing of staff – the benefits such as increased engagement are almost immeasurable.”

Adam Powell, Partner, Deloitte Bristol said “As a responsible employer we know that mental health and wellbeing can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, and the wider economy. That’s why Deloitte is excited to be part of Bristol’s ‘Thriving at Work Bristol’ programme – collaborating with many other local employers who are committed to supporting mental health and wellbeing of employees across the region.”