Welcoming developments to Britain’s mental health culture but still striving to do better and make a change

Today Britain’s first Minister for Mental health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention Mrs Doyle-Price was appointed ready for World Mental Health Day 2018. Mates in Mind welcomes this significant step in prioritising the nation’s mental wellbeing.

In recent years, a conversation about the importance of mental health and wellbeing has certainly developed amongst the general public. Additionally, we have witnessed changes within mental health trends. For example: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the rate of suicide among men in the UK has reached its lowest for more than 30 years. In addition to this, the NHS stated that 120,000 more people are getting specialist mental health treatment this year compared to just 3 years ago.[1]

The appointment of Mrs Doyle-Price represents another major shift in attitudes towards mental health and wellbeing across the nation.

However, whilst there has certainly been a marked change in the ways mental health is being tackled within the UK, it remains a significant challenge. Across the UK approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year.[2] In addition to this suicide remains the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK.[3]

Within the construction industry this complex issue remains particularly prominent. In 2017 Randstad found that more than a third of construction workers surveyed had experienced a mental health condition in the last year. In the same year the ONS reported that the suicide rate among construction labourers is more than three times higher than the national average for men in England and Wales.

Speaking at the 2018 Mad World Conference this week, Professor Sir Cary Cooper noted that in this respect employers should not to offer “easy” solutions such as “mindfulness at lunch” in order to tackle the complex challenge mental health poses. It is important not to view one action as a solution to the issue we face in the same way that we should not view the appointment of Mrs Doyle-Price as a solution to the UK’s mental health difficulties.

In response to the recent appointment, Mates in Mind’s Executive Director said: “Whilst there has certainly been a marked change in the way mental ill-health is being seen across society, it still remains a sensitive and challenging issue for society, and employers. Greater awareness of the prevalence and extent of the challenge is increasingly understood, but how this can be better managed and more importantly, redressed, is far more complex and will take concerted effort on many levels Increasingly, employers are recognising their role in this agenda as well.  But we believe we are very much in the early stages of this journey. This ministerial appointment and the funding for Samaritans suggests that the Government accepts such a position”

More has been done to promote World Suicide Day 2018 than ever before, and whilst the government’s increasing commitments to prioritise the mental wellbeing of the nation is hugely commendable, we must continue to take holistic approaches to address mental health and wellbeing, ensuring good mental wellbeing become a fully integrated norm of life in the UK.

Mates in Mind is a registered charity working in the UK that aims to provide clear information to employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations. Mates in Mind looks to make sense of what options and support are available to employers wishing to promote improved mental health within their workforce.  

Mates in Mind is a collaboration of founding partners: Health in Construction Leadership Group and British Safety Council and is supported by core partner charities Mind, Samaritans, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Inspire. It is also supported by construction industry charities and bodies and has various Mates in Mind business champions, including: Balfour Beatty; eight2O; Galliford Try; Mineral Products Association; RSE Group; Sellafield; Tarmac; and Tideway.  Quotes of support from these organisations are available on request. 

Mates in Mind was the result of a Health in Construction Leadership Group summit in early 2017 for construction industry CEOs and senior leaders who voted overwhelmingly to improve the mental wellbeing of its workforce. At an event in January 2017, Mates in Mind was launched and the pilot phase was started. Mates in Mind was featured in the Thriving at Work report published in October 2017.

 

[1] https://www.england.nhs.uk/five-year-forward-view/next-steps-on-the-nhs-five-year-forward-view/mental-health/

[2] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.W2xajehKjIU

[3] https://www.samaritans.org/about-us/our-research/facts-and-figures-about-suicide

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