Employers across the region will target mental health in a major new campaign to raise awareness and tackle stigma.
Despite the fact that each year 25% of the UK’s population suffers a mental health problem – with many reported during the current COVID-19 pandemic - there is still an alarming lack of support and understanding.
Mental health problems are all too common in the workplace, and the leading cause of sickness absence. A staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems – costing UK employers approximately £2.4 billion annually.
Now the new campaign - This is Me Yorkshire – will encourage business leaders and employees to open the conversation to reduce the stigma around mental health, dispel myths and improve employee wellbeing for good.
The region’s health professionals and business leaders will come together to spearhead the launch of the valuable campaign on Friday 23 October at a virtual conference. Keynote speakers at the event include Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council’s chief executive; Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults; Councillor Eileen Taylor, lord mayor of Leeds; Paulette Cohen, head of diversity and inclusion at Barclays Bank; and Jodie Hill, managing director at Thrive Law.
Cllr Charlwood said: “With mental health cases continuing to rise, we need to do more to reduce the numbers of people developing mental health difficulties in the first place.
“Risk factors such as trauma and abuse or having other long-term health conditions are well known as root causes of poor mental wellbeing. Other lesser-known factors also put people at risk, such as being isolated, dealing with debt and financial strain, being unemployed, or having caring responsibilities.
“Through the This Is Me Yorkshire campaign we want to encourage workplaces to support people who are at highest risk of developing poor mental wellbeing and help them put plans in place that will work for them, to maintain a positive wellbeing. This will help support our bold ambition of making Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing.”
Tom Riordan said: “There is absolutely no doubt about the impact that mental health issues can have on a business and yet so many employers are unsure exactly how to address them. It is now time to put mental health firmly back on the workplace agenda, and I hope that the launch of this new campaign will just be the start of a greater awareness and understanding of this crucial issue.”
Jodie Hill added: “It is currently more vital than ever for businesses to look after the mental health of their colleagues. We all know that our workforce is the key to a successful business, and the Coronavirus pandemic has already caused a serious decline in our region's mental health.
“This is Me is already well established in London and other regions, and I am delighted that we are now bringing it directly to Yorkshire - expanding on the tremendous work already being done elsewhere. It gives a voice to Yorkshire-based businesses and individuals who want to share their story and open conversations about workplace mental health."