New approach needed to support mental health in C&W businesses

Date posted: July 13, 2021
a lady is sitting at her table in front of a laptop, she looks frustrated

A total overhaul of productivity and the approach to supporting the mental health of workforces in Coventry and Warwickshire is needed, according to a new report.

Health and wellbeing is the spotlight of the latest Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub SmartRegion report which collects information from its business engagements as well as statistics and data from Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, the CWLEP and other organisations.

The report highlights that the CWLEP and its partners in Coventry and Warwickshire aim to minimise the negative economic impacts of Covid-19 on health and wellbeing through its Strategic Reset Framework.

It suggests a fundamental reshaping of the whole economy – a reset, not a return to pre-Covid-19 normality – which will require a wholesale reimagination of productivity and approaches to supporting the mental health of employees.

To encourage workers to return to the workplace, hybrid work patterns and flexible working practices need to be explored to improve the health and wellbeing of employees so that they have an opportunity to socialise and have better support in other aspects of their lives.

The SmartRegion report also suggests businesses could become involved in the Thrive at Work programme run by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) which is a free wellbeing accreditation programme that supports the health and wellbeing of employees.

It also encourages businesses to sign-up to programmes such as the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) which provides a wide range of support and resources for companies and employees.

Coventry City Council has also launched a Call to Action for employers across Coventry and Warwickshire to look at their working practices and take actions to improve health and well-being in their workforce, which will also improve their business’ performance.

This project was highlighted at an event last month organised by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council when Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Institute of Health Equity, UCL, was the keynote speaker.

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the pandemic has had a huge effect on the health and wellbeing of people:

The importance of good mental health, often overlooked in the past, is rightly now being recognised by employers as contributing to high-quality work, improved productivity, and our economic recovery

There are some key factors that have caused people’s mental health and wellbeing to deteriorate during the pandemic including social isolation, jobs and financial loss, housing insecurity and quality, reduced access to mental health services, and working from home which has led to increased stress and anxiety for many people.

The Federation of Small Businesses has a Wellbeing Hub, the Mind charity has produced booklets and leaflets for workplaces to help staff, and the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) is supporting workplace mental health across the Midlands Engine region.

HR professionals are currently being encouraged to take part in research by the MHPP to share their thoughts on how Covid-19 has affected long-term sick leave in workplaces, and to help inform future policy.

For the latest on our region, subscribe to Midlands Matters, the official newsletter of the Midlands Engine.

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