10th July 2017

Raising awareness and challenging the stigma around mental health is high on the national agenda, and rightly so. The recent Mental Health Awareness Week (8th – 14th May) and the ‘Heads Together’ campaign, which was supported by members of The Royal Family, coincided with extensive media coverage that was both varied and emotionally charged.

There seems to have been a concerted effort in recent times to alter perceptions and attitudes toward mental health, which has been replicated in the workplace by employers seeking to support their employees.

According to a report published by Business Matters in February 2017, 80 million working days are lost every year due to depression, anxiety and stress related illnesses, with as many as 3 in 10 workers affected at any given time. It is thought that over 50% of businesses in the UK now have a clearly defined well-being strategy in place.

As part of UNW’s wellbeing in the workplace initiative, NHS Clinical Psychiatrist Clark Davison was invited to present a workshop on managing stress levels in the workplace. He introduced techniques to staff to keep stress and anxiety levels low, including setting realistic work targets, and managing self-expectation. Throughout his career, Dr Davison said he had generally found individuals who worked at a moderate pace and set themselves realistic work goals to be more relaxed, motivated and productive.

A CIPD report published in 2016 states employers should implement a holistic approach to health and well-being that is preventative and proactive, as well as reactive. In the report, employers were advised that while supporting those suffering from stress and anxiety in the workplace is positive action, ensuring that expectations and targets were manageable to avoid potential issues arising should be focused upon in equal measure.

Launched in May, the Wellness Programme at UNW was introduced to raise awareness of wellbeing in the workplace and encourage employees to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In addition to the NHS talk, representatives from Storm Fitness were also in to outline the benefits of planning and maintaining an effective physical exercise programme. Presentations were rounded off by Nutritional Therapist Katherine Neal, founder of Nutritional Know How, who discussed the impact of a balanced, healthy diet on energy levels and concentration in the workplace.

The six-month initiative will culminate in UNW’s sponsored marathon walk around Kielder Reservoir in September 2017. The walk is in aid for Smile For Life, a small independent charity based in Gosforth, for whom UNW have acted as corporate sponsor since April 2016.

 

Image caption: NHS Clinical Psychiatrist Dr. Clark Davison 

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