With more than 300,000 people losing their jobs each year due to long-term mental health issues, the business cost to the UK economy is an eye-watering £25 billion each year1. Sadly it’s an issue and a challenge that is not going to be solved overnight.  This is why more progressive organisations across the UK are taking responsibility for the mental health of staff by raising awareness, reducing the stigma and providing support.  When you consider one in four people experience mental health issues in any given year, it begs the question, why have mental health issues in the workplace been ignored for so long?

In the current wellbeing climate where office perks such as yoga and free lattes are thrown into the employee benefits mix, it’s absolutely critical that an employee’s mental health is taken seriously and made a priority. Poor mental health should not be seen as a barrier to profit, instead companies should work to promote good mental health.

 

At Sika, we believe in treating our employees as individuals and creating workplaces where everyone can thrive. Taking mental health issues seriously is part of this as many people in the workplace experience difficulty in opening up about their mental health concerns. It’s an issue that touches all employees. Depression and anxiety should not be part of the daily grind as this will ultimately result in lower productivity and strained relationships with colleagues.

In prioritising staff wellbeing, Sika has implemented a mental health support programme with mental health first aiders who are trained to deal with the early signs of mental health problems. Having completed a one-day awareness course, these mental health first aid (MHFA) champions gain practical skills to see the warning signs and deal with issues at hand. They become the first-line intervention and gain an understanding of how to build a mentally healthy workplace and support positive wellbeing.

 

Rolled out across all divisions within Sika UK, the MHFA course focuses on line managers and improves attitudes on mental health. Employees need to be willing to seek help and managers need to be willing to support them. They also have access to a confidential employee assistance programme (EAP) which provides links to counselling and advisory services.

With our current Government putting such an importance on preventative measures and early intervention for mental health issues, the work that Sika is doing in promoting mental health training for people managers and providing support for staff will go some way to reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. When you consider there are 800+ employees across Sika UK, it is important staff can be themselves and talk about mental health concerns without fear.

 

1Oxford Economics – The Economic importance of safeguarding mental health in the workplace