Second Improving Workplace Health programme launched “at a vital time” for Suffolk’s mental health
A new initiative, building on a successful 2019 pilot, aimed at monitoring and improving mental health outcomes across the county’s 30,000-plus businesses and celebrating and sharing best practice has been launched by an alliance of business leaders and public health professionals.
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Suffolk County Council’s Public Health & Communities team and Suffolk Mind to deliver a year-long research, communications and information-sharing campaign and showcasing good practice by encouraging employers to sign up to the county’s Healthy Workplace Award.
Three years ago, Suffolk Chamber and Suffolk County Council collaborated to host a series of workshops which saw Suffolk businesses of all sizes and sectors sharing experiences and working together on a joint toolkit – Building a Resilient County – which provides advice for businesses, written by businesses, to improve workforce health and wellbeing.
Alongside a wide-range of other partners, the two organisations came together again in response to the COVID19 pandemic and are now looking to help boost workplace mental health as the economy and society tries to recover.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Public Health and Public Protection, and chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Poor mental health and wellbeing continues to be a serious challenge not only for the affected individuals, but also for Suffolk’s longer-term prosperity.
“Research prior to the pandemic suggested that the costs of poor mental health among the workforce accounted for £800m a year in lost productivity. I’m sure that the direct and indirect impacts of COVID have only made that situation worse. Our aim is to support better mental health and wellbeing across the whole of Suffolk, which is why I am pleased we are launching this workplace focused programme of work as a clear priority for Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board.”
The programme will:
- Use regular surveys and face-to-face discussions to map mental health trends in workplaces based on Suffolk Mind’s programme: Suffolk Needs Met
- Update the Building a Resilient County toolkit and run an information campaign to signpost relevant business-oriented support in light of the ongoing research findings
- Celebrate the role of Suffolk businesses in supporting their workforces’ mental health by relaunching the Healthy Workplace Awards
John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber’s chief executive, explained: “It’s clear from our ongoing conversations with our members and others, that the mental health of many owners, management teams and staff more generally across a range of sectors has declined over the last couple of years.
“We firmly believe that they should not suffer in silence and so hope that this second Improving Workplace Health programme will identify areas of greatest need and bring businesspeople to work together to identify and share best practice.
“Our aim is nothing less than to ensure that Suffolk has the best mental health outcomes in the country. The work we aim to deliver this year should make a major contribution to delivering this ambition and is being launched at a vital time for the mental health of business owners and their workforces.”
Suffolk Mind has been surveying the population of Suffolk for the past five years and has data from hundreds of employers. The project will expand upon this data to inform the updates to the Building a Resilient County toolkit. Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: “It’s clear from research by Deloitte and from our own initiatives with businesses that the best return from investing in mental health in the workplace comes from improvements to culture. Even the best employers can become even better when it comes to enabling their teams to thrive.
“In Suffolk we have an opportunity to make our county the best place to come and work, or to start and grow a business. We have many existing assets to build upon, and our workplaces can enable people to maintain good mental health by meeting their emotional needs, helping employers attract and keep the best staff.”
The Improving Workplace Health Programme is overseen by the Best Health and Work Partnership which reports into the Suffolk Health & Wellbeing board. For further information: https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/representing-you/initiatives-campaigns/improving-workplace-health/ To find out more about the Healthy Workplace Award accreditation, visit www.healthyworkplaceaward.org.uk