COVID-19 has affected all our lives and our livelihoods in profound ways over the last year. The nation has come together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, but there has been a cost. The virus itself, and the necessary measures to contain its spread, have triggered feelings of worry, distress, or loneliness for many of us. In response to these challenges, you may have seen that the government has recently published our COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Action Plan. This sets out our ambitious, cross-government approach to promoting positive mental health and supporting people living with mental illness to recover and live well.
I care greatly about the health of our businesses, and the impact of the past year on the wellbeing of businesses and individuals; from workers and employees to business leaders and those running their own companies. Through my ongoing engagement with businesses and representative organisations, I have been acutely aware of the impact on those facing financial insecurity, for example. This is of particular concern as we know there is a clear and well-established relationship between financial insecurity and poor mental health.
We also know more broadly that poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, and the UK economy between £74 billion and £99 billion per year. Supporting mental health in the workplace has never been more important, and I fully recognise and value the role that employers play when they take positive action to provide workplace mental health and wellbeing support to their staff.
I wanted to therefore ask for your support. I know many of you have specific tools and programmes in place to promote positive mental health and support individuals, and I would encourage you to take this opportunity to promote this to your membership.
For those organisations that do not have their own resources, we would encourage you to promote some of the existing resources available, such as those being signposted through GOV.UK. These include:
- Mind, the mental health charity, have developed the Mental Health at Work website – this hosts over 400 resources to inform and advise employers on managing mental health in the workplace
- Mental Health at Work includes a toolkit with advice and resources especially for small businesses
- businesses and individuals can also receive free and impartial advice about issues relating to money or debt, from the Money Advice Service
Thank you for your efforts so far on this important issue. Through promoting these resources and guidance for businesses and employers, as well as your own resources, we can improve workplace support, support those individuals who need it, and better tackle the impacts of mental ill-health moving forward.
Paul Scully MP
Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets
Minister for London