1 Nov

Employers encouraged to take action during International Stress Awareness Day


Midlands employers are being encouraged to start conservations about mental health in their workplaces by a region-wide mental health initiative, ahead of International Stress Awareness Day.

The day falls on Wednesday, November 3, and the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) has highlighted how its ‘Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat’ campaign gives advice to employers on how they can help their staff feel more confident to start conversations around stress and other common mental health conditions.

MHPP’s research shows that since the pandemic, employees in the Midlands feel less able to talk about mental health and that managers are finding it harder to spot the warning signs when staff need support.

Through the campaign web site, employers can access a range of tools and resources to help them run their own campaigns about talking about mental health at work. It includes downloadable leaflets for line managers and individuals and an employer resource pack as well as guidance for developing a mental health strategy.

Dr Talar Moukhtarian, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, said:

“Stress, especially in the short term, is a perfectly normal part of working life, even if we love what we do. Big projects or deadlines can cause it, and some people thrive in these conditions.

“But stress can also be triggered by other factors which may not be situational, such as excessive workload, lack of support, poor work-life balance and working relationships.

“If employees are regularly feeling stressed, that can indicate a more serious problem and can manifest physically, such as a headache or chest pain, or psychologically. It is crucial that employees encourage staff going through this to speak out and get the support they need.

“If staff are discouraged from sharing their worries or seeking help for whatever reason, it can lead to burnout, which can result in staff being off work for a significant length of time.

“Our ‘Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat’ campaign enables employers across the Midlands to foster a culture of openness around mental health in their workplaces, including around stress.

“An organisation being proactive on mental health by regularly asking how staff are feeling, encouraging honest conversations, and signposting staff to places that can help should they need it, can all enable staff to deal with stress in a healthy way.

“This International Stress Awareness Day, we are encouraging Midlands employers to make a commitment to improving staff mental health and support them to have conversations.”

Employers are encouraged to take a first step and download the free employer resource pack, which has all the tools employers need to get started.

It gives tips and advice on how employers can help their staff to talk openly about mental health, such as how to strike the right tone with your staff, using activities like ‘temperature checks’ to assess staff wellbeing, and how to direct staff to support should they need it.

So far, more than 1,000 businesses across the region have downloaded the online resources MHPP has provided as part of the campaign.

MHPP is funded by Midlands Engine and is led by Coventry University in partnership with the University of Warwick, the West Midlands Combined Authority, mental health charity Mind and the universities of Birmingham, Derby, Lincoln, Loughborough and Nottingham.

Find out more about Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat campaign