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Suffolk leaders welcome government’s workplace mental health review as Theresa May visits Norwich

PUBLISHED: 18:07 26 October 2017

Theresa May has visited East Anglia to mark the launch of a major government review into mental health in the workplace.

A study commissioned by the prime minister has found one in six employees suffer with a mental health issue, and around 300,000 people with a long-term psychological condition lose their job every year.

During her trip to Archant’s offices in Norwich today, Mrs May said the government was keeping a close eye on development in Norfolk and Suffolk, as the counties’ mental health trust has recently been placed into special measures by the Care Quality Commission.

She said: “It was good to see patients were very clearly complimentary about the staff, especially in the community unit there, but obviously there are other issues which need to be looked at. I think there is an intensive package going in now, overall if you look across the country there is a good record of being able to move trusts out of special measures, so that’s where the focus is going to be.”

The review is calling on employers to adopt six “mental health core standards” to enhance workplace wellbeing.

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: “Work should be a route to meeting emotional needs for meaning and purpose, having a sense of control over our lives, and to feel we are stretching ourselves and achieving things.

“This is what employers aiming to create ‘good work’ should be reaching for – it is the key to having an emotionally healthy and thriving workplace.

“At Suffolk Mind we’re working with employers to create workplaces that are healthy environments for people to get all of their emotional needs met. The most forward-thinking managers and directors know that taking care of the mental health of their workforce leads not only to lower absence rates, but also to higher productivity. Having a workforce that is better able to meet key physical and emotional needs is in everyone’s interest.”

While welcoming the review, Derrick Farrell, chief executive of workplace health specialist RehabWorks, which is based in Busy St Edmunds, said the true scale of the problem may be worse as many mentally unwell workers suffered in silence because of perceived taboo and prejudice.

Mental ill health is estimated to cost the UK economy up to £99 billion every year.

The review highlights that for every £1 spent on investing in wellbeing in the workplace, there was an average £4.20 return.

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