Speak Your Mind: Leeds employers urged to make workplaces mental health-friendly

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are  supporting the Mindful Employer Leeds initiative - which is part of the YEP's new #SpeakYourMind campaign.

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are supporting the Mindful Employer Leeds initiative - which is part of the YEP's new #SpeakYourMind campaign.

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The YEP is calling on employers to make workplaces mental health-friendly as part of our #SpeakYourMind campaign. Joseph Keith reports.

Employers in Leeds are being urged to become more positive about mental health in the workplace as part of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s new #SpeakYourMind campaign to combat stigma surrounding the issue.

The Mindful Employer Leeds initiative was set up as a call for employers to tackle discrimination in workplaces and recruitment procedures against people with mental health difficulties.

Hundreds of employers have so far pledged their support to the initiative, which includes a ‘ten step toolkit’ with advice on how to create a mental health-friendly workplace, and an online charter that businesses can sign.

And the YEP is also urging businesses to become more positive about mental health by supporting employees’ well-being in the workplace and challenging perception as part of the #SpeakYourMind campaign, which launched this week.

The initiative is being championed by mental health charity Leeds Mind.

Helen Kemp, chief executive of Leeds Mind, said: “Leeds Mind are proud to be the lead partner for the Mindful Employer initiative in Leeds.

“Mindful Employer encourages positive attitudes to mental health in the workplace and is a starting point to help employers to understand mental health and have positive conversations with their employees.”

Mrs Kemp said the charity can help businesses and services with support networks, by offering advice and by providing information about the initiative.

Leeds Mind also organises networking events, workplace projects, research and conferences – and has more than 400 employers based in the city who attend regular networking events.

The charity also created a Mindful Employer Steering Group which comprises public, private and third sector businesses and services in Leeds who support the initiative.

Mrs Kemp added: “As lead partner Leeds Mind can assist employers in providing support networks and information, increase awareness of mental health and improve communications in the workplace.

“It’s highly beneficial to both employee and employer as investing in wellbeing and staff support can see a return of reduced sickness absences, an increase in productivity, better job retention and enhanced reputation.

“In the current economic climate having these conversations is more important than ever to maintain a mentally healthy workforce.”

Businesses can follow a ‘ten step toolkit’ as part of the Mindful Employer initiative.

The initiative includes guidance on how to engage with employees to increase their awareness of mental health and educate them to help people understand their role, build confidence and reduce stigma.

It also guides employers to help them implement a solid approach to prevent bullying and discrimination, and to support employees.

One of the businesses supporting the Mindful Employer Leeds initiative in the city is Attigo.

The Headingley-based organisation is a healthcare digital social enterprise and works in life sciences with the aim of enabling people those with mental health issues to gain employment.

And after signing up to the Mindful Employer initiative in June, Attigo team leader Lucy Graham says the organisation has already noticed a difference.

She said: “As a social enterprise with the aim of enabling people who face disadvantage in the job market to work for us, we believe that becoming a Mindful Employer is very important as it shows a commitment to supporting our staff and challenging mental health stigma, which unfortunately is still all too common.

“We have definitely noticed a difference since joining.

“We recently organised a stress management training session for all our staff, and we hope to run some general mental health awareness training for line managers soon too.

“Getting involved in Mindful Employer is definitely worthwhile for other businesses – it has many benefits, including being able to tap into local and national networks of like-minded employers, from all backgrounds and sectors so that you can share best practice, swap ideas and also learn from others’ experiences.”

She said the Mindful Employer guidance had helped make the organisation’s recruitment processes for new staff more open.

Visit www.mindfulemployerleeds.com for more details about the initiative.

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