Leicester LEP launches pilot programme to improve workplace mental health amid COVID-19
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Ltd. (LLEP) is pleased to announce a new initiative. The Mental Health Productivity Pilot (MHPP) is a three-year programme set up to support employers across Leicester and Leicestershire and the wider Midlands region
Good mental health is hugely important for a happy, productive workforce. Unfortunately, mental health issues cost UK employers up to £45 billion each year, due to absences or decreased productivity, a rise of 16% since 2016. Around 300,000 people lose their jobs each year due to a long-term mental health problem.
The impact of the coronavirus crisis on people’s mental health is projected to exacerbate this. To address the issue, the LLEP is one of nine Local Enterprise Partnerships to participate in the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot programme. The MHPP is funded by a £6.8 million Midlands Engine grant and is designed to support employers to provide working environments that are conducive to good mental health.
Working with employers of all sizes and from different sectors across Leicester and Leicestershire, the MHPP will create and test a range of existing and new interventions for improving mental health. ’Interventions’ are small adjustments that employers can make to ensure that their workers are able to thrive in the workplace. According to MHPP, “any individual can have a serious mental health problem but – with the right support – can still thrive at work.”
For example, a business can improve the mental health of its workforce by promoting an open culture around mental health. This would include changing the way people talk and think about mental health issues by removing any stigmas around them, encouraging those conversations and highlighting the support available for people experiencing problems.
The MHPP website has toolkits and information for employers looking to make changes in the workplace. These can be found at www.mhpp.me/employers.
The LLEP will help to engage employers in Leicester and Leicestershire and encourage them to participate in the MHPP programme. It is important that a wide range of local businesses sign up to take part, so that results are representative of the local business landscape. What works at a large multinational corporation might prove ineffective at an SME or micro-business.
At the end of the three-year pilot MHPP we will assess the impact of these interventions and make recommendations to Midlands Engine for those which are proven to make a difference to employee mental health and productivity, and which could potentially be upscaled across the country.
Kevin Harris is Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors. He said:
“There is increasing recognition that good mental health is just as important as good physical health. In these trying times and with the need to adapt to new ways of living, working and socialising, all of us should consider what we can do to protect our mental health.
“For employers looking to restart economic activity, it is extremely important that their workforce is in the right frame of mind. The productivity of any business depends on this, which why the LLEP is supporting the MHPP programme.
“I would encourage employers in Leicester and Leicestershire that wish to benefit from this programme to check out the MHPP website for toolkits that are available. They may well reap the rewards of targeted interventions to improve the mental health of their workers.
“Leicester and Leicestershire businesses can be proud to know they are participating in a pilot programme of major national significance.”
The MHPP pilot began in July 2019 with strategic research to gather data on employer’s needs. It is now moving into the delivery phase where the aim is to drive awareness of positive initiatives for mental health in the workplace among small, medium and large employers across the Midlands region. The evaluation of the project will conclude in June 2022.
Having open and honest conversations in the workplace can help improve mental health.