According to the mental health charity, Mind, poor mental health affects half of all employees in the UK. With this statistic in mind, it has never been more important to shine a spotlight on mental health, and to help create a society where there is no longer a stigma associated with speaking up about challenges relating to mental wellbeing.

Absences relating to mental health issues reportedly cost UK businesses a staggering £8.4 billion a year, and according to research carried out by Mind, 300,000 people a year leave the workplace because of mental health problems.

We’ve come a long way in the past few years in shifting stigmas surrounding mental health – but there is still much more to be done. We need to ensure we are opening a dialogue about mental health in all areas of life – including and particularly at work. That’s why, this Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re calling on employers to take the lead in fostering mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Change the stigma

Encourage your staff to develop their knowledge on mental health, as the more we know the more we can have an informed conversation. It’s easier to know what to say to someone when they open up if you aren’t completely ignorant. Educate people on how they should talk to someone, should they be in the situation if someone is brave enough to talk about their mental health, then they are asked questions and shown support.

Make it known to the workforce that mental health is serious and that there will be no condoning mockery. Conversations that make mental health a joke or stigmatise mental illness should not be tolerated.

Some businesses have even invested in making information about mental health more accessible via their software management software, such as the companies Intranet. By having information at the fingertips of employees its showing that there is a place for a mental health conversation, and that the company is understanding. Ensure that the information provided also gives people the knowledge of how and where people can seek help within their workplace should they need it.

Encourage employees to get outside and be active

Research shows that having access to green spaces at work significantly boosts employee well-being, reduces stress, enhances innovative potential, and encourages a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t take a lunch break, never mind spend time with nature.

Nature-based activities help people who are experiencing mental health problems and contribute to a reduction in their levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s new wellbeing program ‘Go Wild in the workplace’ is an initiative aimed at businesses to add value to the workplace and introduce staff to a world of wellbeing just outside the office window.

The NHS have released findings to their website, saying that yoga may bring long-term benefits for people with mental health issues such as depression. Maybe host a few yoga sessions in your office to encourage employees to find their center and for half an hour a day to be at peace with their mind and not stressing over work.

Provide training

It is more crucial than ever that workplaces introduce a mental health wellbeing training programme. By implementing such a programme, managers will have more knowledge on ‘spotting’ signs earlier, as well as raising awareness through the entire work force. Having specific Mental Health First Aiders and Champions allows people to feel protected and eligible to discuss their concerns. It also means issues can be addressed and support offered earlier.

CPL Training are providing a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course. The course covers content such as spotting the early signs and symptoms of mental ill health, how to start a supportive conversation with a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress and ways to listen to a person in a non-judgmental manner. Once the 2-day course is completed, delegates will receive a certificate confirming their Mental Health First Aider position and a fold-out card summarising the five-step MHFA action plan. Every MHFA course is delivered by a quality assured instructor who has completed the Instructor Training programme accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health.