We need to talk about mental health

British Safety Council supports Time to Talk Day.

One in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, while in the workplace one in six employees face mental ill heath as a result of stress, anxiety or depression, according to mental health charity Mind. The total number of working days lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues is 91m, which equates to £1,035 per employee (according to the Centre for Mental Health). Despite this mental health still isn’t openly discussed in the majority of workplaces in Britain, mostly because of the stigma associated with mental health problems.

The British Safety Council gives its wholehearted support to Time to Talk Day, which every year promotes the importance of talking about mental health and wellbeing. It is a part of The Time to Change Campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, supported by the Department of Health, comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. This year the campaign celebrates its 10th anniversary. Organisers estimate that in this period 3.4 million adults in England have improved their attitude to mental health, which is an 8.3% improvement.

“Time to Talk Day is a perfect opportunity to promote effective conversations,” says Louise Ward, Director of Policy, Standards and Communications at the British Safety Council. “The question ‘how are you?’ has become a common form of greeting in the UK and is generally met with a standard ‘I’m OK’ response. But how many of us actually feel OK all the time?  And how shocked would we be if someone gave an honest answer!  Why not mark Time to Talk Day in your workplace this year by encouraging your colleagues to put some meaning back into this routine conversational exchange?  There are lots of stresses, concerns and worries associated with modern life and it can be a huge relief to feel able to talk about them, to realise that you’re not alone and that other people are experiencing similar things.

“It’s also an opportunity to encourage people to do something nice for someone else.  Being on the receiving end of a simple act of kindness can give you a real lift, but actually being kind can be just as uplifting and make you feel much more positive in yourself.”

Raising awareness of mental health is at the core of the British Safety Council’s work. On 28 January, the British Safety Council launched the Mates in Mind programme, in partnership with the Health in Construction Leadership Group, to reduce stigma and improve understanding of mental health in the construction industry. The programme is supported by leading mental health charities, such as Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England, and will provide training, tools, information and support to facilitate effective conversations about mental health.

The Time to Talk Day campaign website contains many useful resources, including information on how the campaign can be adopted in the workplace. Mind and the Centre for Mental Health websites also have a wealth of information and advice for businesses to help them build healthy workplaces and give support to people with mental health problems.

To facilitate conversations about mental health, the British Safety Council has also produced a video, in collaboration with Mind and the Centre for Mental Health.