The bottom line


“Forget service improvement and just design services [our work places] that work properly”         Terry Young

I guess leaders can view their organisations in different ways, for example we can view them in terms of income & expenditure this leading us to focus on issues such as procurement costs, fee structure & seek to run them smarter & leaner & frankly why on earth not, the bottom line counts!

But when we take this approach do we miss some glaring human realities? For example mental health issues now count for 45% of all absence. Also what about presenteeism (turning up & going through the motions) the cost of which is so significant?

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What would be the effect on the bottom line if we could reduce staff absence, turnover & have motivated, engaged, enthused & creative teams? Significant no doubt.

Raising awareness around our mental health at work, developing our understanding, knowing how to respond appropriately when folks need support creates positive inclusive working cultures. In short look after the causes of long term health & the bottom line looks after itself.



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Pink & fluffy?


“Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule”                                                                  Charles Dickens

There are many influences on the way we understand leadership today, most notably the move away from a traditional rigid ‘male’ view of command, control and the obviously tangible. Now we lean towards a more insightful understanding that teams are the delivery agent and teams are comprised of individuals whose performance is dependent on their wellbeing.

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At the weekend the BBC showcased Warren Gatland, the Welsh rugby Coach, giving a team talk to a group of players noted for their tough & competitive focus on the bottom line; winning. In it he focussed on the players wellbeing and extended support for any issues the players may be struggling with in their personal lives, because, he said, these issues have a direct impact on individual and team performance.

Rugby is about as tough as it gets and it’s all about team performance and getting results. The result from the opening game of the six nations; Wales 34 : Scotland 7

Anyone still think that team wellbeing is pink and fluffy?


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Resolution Mental Health in 2018!



“When faced with the unknown, if we are to talk about it at all, the only language available to us is the language of our own experience”      D.W.D. Shaw

We know that you are otherwise perfect and so will have been struggling to find a new year’s resolution to improve the un-improvable right? thought not, moi aussi.

So by way of a nudge……could this be the year when we embrace the importance of our own mental health?

When mental health awareness week comes around on 14th May, perhaps we will be able to take a moment and pat ourselves on the back for the positive steps we have made at home or in the workplace, how will that feel?

Could this be the year when we acknowledge that our mental health underpins how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us and we should look after it?

MHFA England continue to work toward this end and Deloitte have recently published their report ‘Mental Health & Wellbeing in employment’ which showed a tenfold return on investment in mental health training.

As part of stepping up our efforts on this quest we have today published a helpful resources page on our website. This is stuffed with useful links and information to help support individual’s mental health and increase the positive impact of raising awareness in the workplace.

Happy New Year; in 2018 let’s talk about mental health more!


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Don’t talk about mental health


“What is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 49?”

This is the question we asked our class of paramedics receiving their mental health training the other day…

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A number of good suggestions came forward; a heart attack, cancer perhaps, maybe a stroke or, thinking outside of physical health, road traffic accidents. Like the paramedics you may be surprised to know the answer is suicide, by a long way, hanging being the most common method.

To give you an idea of scale, there are approximately 1713 deaths by road traffic accidents per year (male & female) while 4287 men lose their life each year by suicide.
Three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are male – Office for National Statistics, (ONS) Statistical bulletin for the year 2016.

Why is this? Because we do not talk about mental health enough, men particularly, nor does society talk about suicide very readily.

Rays of hope; The times they are a changing – a recent masculinity audit shows men now view their mental health as more important than their physical health, with 46% of young men aged 18-29 saying they consider mental health to be very important.

In 2016 the suicide rates fell by 3.1% for men and 9.4% for women (ONS).

Perhaps we are ready to talk about it…


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Mental health & deaths in custody


                       “Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence.                             There is no better rule”   Charles Dickens

On 23 July 2015 the then Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP announced a major review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody. This has just been published with much accompanying publicity – I have highlighted some key points raised in relation to mental health below:

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Several inquests over many years have highlighted police failure to recognise behaviour as the manifestation of mental ill health.

It notes the need for consistent national training for the police on dealing with mental ill health because it has become a major part of daily policing both with victims and suspects.

Research by the Guardian in January 2016 suggested that ‘UK police are spending as much as 40% of their time dealing with incidents triggered by some kind of mental health issue’.

In its submission to the HAC on Mental Health and Policing, the following was highlighted – ‘Disturbingly, a recent national custody survey of police inspectors identified that 76% had not received training in dealing with the mentally ill in custody’.

In oral evidence to this review, Michael Brown, the national mental health coordinator for the College of Policing, stated that new police recruits may only get six hours training in mental health awareness before graduation. His recent blog on this review can be found here.

Recommendations from the review include:
• Commitment and responsibility at leadership level is needed across police forces to ensure prioritisation of the issue of mental health and to bring about sustained cultural, organisational and practical changes.

• National, comprehensive, quality assured mental health training consistent with the above is needed for all officers in front-line or custody roles. This should span all new recruits and regular refresher training.


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Thriving at work: part 2


“Many employers are already creating healthy, inclusive workplaces, but more needs to be done so that employers provide the support needed for employees with mental health conditions.” – Prime Minister Theresa May, January 2017

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This blog sits alongside Part 1 from a few days ago which celebrated the excellent Thriving at work Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers, commissioned by the prime minister, published last week on 26th October.
Along with the clear and practical expectations on employers going forward it introduces aspirations:

• Every one of us will have the knowledge, tools and confidence, to understand and look after our own mental health and the mental health of those around us.
• All organisations will be equipped with the awareness and tools to not only address but prevent mental ill health caused or worsened by work
• Be equipped to support individuals with a mental health condition to thrive from recruitment, and throughout the organisation

Deloitte’s analysis which supports the report notes that investments made in improving mental health show a consistently positive return on investment… a finding which is bolstered by a number of academic meta-studies which demonstrate the same.


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Thriving at work: part 1

915_630_1__147621509002434_ThrivingatWork2017MAIN“Mom always tells me to celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.
I like the way that sounds” – Hilary Duff

The excellent ‘Thriving at work’ Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers, commissioned by the prime minister, made the headlines when published a few days ago 26th October.

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It does a great job of recognising the alignment of current professional and economic thinking with the political direction of travel (a thing in itself to be celebrated)! It goes beyond an excellent analysis of the current state of the nation to making clear recommendations as to practical steps forward.

It resonates with my earlier blog on Carers and the need to be focussing our efforts and resources upstream. Firstly it needs to be applauded for normalising mental health and recognising it as an issue that affects all of us and underlining the economic importance of our response.

4 impact statistics:
• 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year
• Around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition
• There is a large annual cost to employers of between £33 billion and £42 billion
• The cost of poor mental health to the economy as a whole is between £74 billion and £99 billion per year

Important recommendations:
• The report sets out workplace ‘mental health core standards’ – a framework for a set of actions to implement quickly and include:
o Each organisation to produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan & develop mental health awareness among employees

• It also sets out ‘mental health enhanced standards’ to reach 46% of employees of all public sector employers and the 3,500 private sector companies with more than 500 employees which include:
o To provide internal and external reporting on mental health
o Ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support

I will be returning and celebrating this report in part 2 of this blog shortly, but to finish a thought from the report:

‘The Lancet has published findings from a study in the Australian Fire Service which found that a manager mental health training programme led to a significant reduction in work-related sickness absence, with an associated return on investment of £9.98 for each pound spent on such training’.


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