Scheme launched to help firms tackle issue of mental health at work as Covid-19 crisis takes its toll

September 16, 2020

A support programme to assist Bath area firms in responding to mental health concerns in the workplace, particularly those arising from Covid-19, has been launched.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is investing in the two-year Thrive at Work West of England programme, which aims to address key mental health issues affecting businesses’ employees and impacting on productivity. 

The package of support, including training resources, is available through WECA’s West of England Growth Hub website and includes e-learning to equip managers with the confidence and skills to have supportive conversations about mental health and wellbeing with staff, particularly in these challenging and changing times.

The training, funded by WECA, will be targeted towards small and medium-sized and ethnic minority-led companies to help support those who may have been impacted the most by Covid-19.

The move comes amid growing awareness of the issue of mental health at work, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, and the huge impact it has on individuals, their employers and the wider economy.

Research carried out across the UK by ONS (Office for National Statistics) in August found that:

  • 39% of people said their well-being was being affected by the pandemic – through stress, anxiety, boredom and loneliness. Of these, 9% reported that they were worried about a possible job loss and 9% said they were worried about returning to work
  • 47% of workers said their work was affected by the pandemic (including furlough, changes in working hours and remote working)
  • 22% reported that the coronavirus outbreak was affecting their household finances – among this group reduced income was most commonly reported (66%)
  • 25% expected their financial position to get worse over the next 12 months.

Thrive at Work West of England is a collaboration between WECA, Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES), Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, trade unions, the mental health charity Mind, plus businesses and organisations in the Thriving at Work regional network.

It builds on Thrive programmes in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and is aligned to the Thrive network across the UK. The programme aims to help create mentally healthy workplaces by supporting the region’s employers with information, tools and training. 

Mind head of workplace wellbeing Emma Mamo said: “Open and supportive workplaces benefit everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line. It’s about creating a culture where staff feel able to talk about mental health.

“It is now more important than ever that staff are listened to and know that they are valued.

“This programme of activity will help employers in the West of England to respond to mental health concerns in the workplace, particularly those arising from Covid-19. It’s great to see this happening at a regional level.”

The scheme has been welcomed by B&NES cabinet member for adult services, Cllr Rob Appleyard, pictured, who said: “The figures speak for themselves and show just how many of us have been affected by the pandemic in terms of our mental health.

“I am especially pleased to know that Mind is involved and is providing its expertise to help people to thrive at work. I know locally B&NES Mind is providing incredible support across the whole of our community.

“Just as we need to look out for each other in terms of social distancing, hand washing and self-isolating. we must also look out for each other’s mental health and I hope businesses are able to make the best use of this programme.

West of England Metro Mayor Tim Bowles, pictured, added: “Mental health and wellbeing can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, and the wider economy.

“Following the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve listened to businesses to find out what help they need and I’m supporting them in their recovery. 

“Thrive at Work West of England is the latest in a package of measures I’ve announced to help support our region’s economy and people’s jobs following the pandemic.

“It will help businesses across the West of England to support the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and respond to the impacts of coronavirus on mental health.

“Our businesses and workers need help and support from a trusted source during these difficult times. Therefore, it’s reassuring that the e-learning content has been written by Mind, a leading authority on mental health.”

Thrive at Work West of England programme includes:

  • Guidance for business leaders to adopt the Mental Health at Work Commitment and implement Mental Health At Work Core Standards.
  • Support to create wellness action plans using templates developed by Mind
  • Free suicide prevention training
  • Toolkits and resources shared by employers including local businesses involved in Thrive Bristol
  • Offers of peer support from businesses to help smaller companies learn from others’ experience of what works to improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Thrive at Work West of England is part of WECA’s targeted business support programme to help kick-start the regional economy following the coronavirus outbreak.

The aim is to help businesses build their financial resilience, innovate and adopt best practice, and boost their productivity.

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across the Bath area for just £75 a month. Email for more information.