Employers support ‘Action on Stigma’ campaign to end mental illness discrimination in the workplace

Employers have overwhelmingly backed the ‘Action on Stigma’ initiative, a national campaign that aims to tackle workplace discrimination associated with mental illness, new research has found.

Shift, a campaign funded by the Department of Health, launched a ‘listening exercise’ to obtain employer views about Action on Stigma in October last year.

It called on public and private sector employers to adopt six principles, including making staff aware of tips for looking after their mental wellbeing, warning signs to look out for, and the need to seek help early if they developed a problem.

A total of 239 questionnaires were completed by employers, with 213 backing all six principles.

Health minister Rosie Winterton is currently touring the country in an effort to get employers to adopt the principles.

She told Personnel Today that feedback had been positive, particularly from government departments.

“I am delighted by the reaction we have had. A number of organisations have already signed up to the initiative, but we view this campaign as an ongoing effort and will unveil an action plan in due course, based on these findings.”

An estimated 80 million work days are lost every year because of mental health problems, at an annual cost of £9bn to businesses, according to figures from mental health charity the Shaw Trust.

“With an estimated three in every 10 workers having a mental health problem of some sort in any one year, dealing with this issue is good not just for employees, but for business too, with benefits such as improved productivity and staff retention,” said Winterton.

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