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UK's largest companies failing to tackle mental health issues

The UK's largest companies, among them JD Wetherspoons, Next, EasyJet, Tesco and Barclays, are failing to actively address mental health issues at work despite acknowledging the problem.

Investment firm CCL Afound 93% of large firms in the UK see workplace mental health as an important issue, but just a third (34%) have published formal targets and objectives to try and tackle the issue.

There was also a lack of support for mental health initiatives at senior level, as only 35% of CEOs publicly signalled a leadership commitment to promoting mental health in the workplace.

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Sally Campbell, head of clinical development at Healix Health Services, said employers should be responsible for creating a safe space to discuss mental health issues at work.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Employers are responsible for creating an atmosphere and culture in which people feel like they can be open with their peers about their mental health.

"When staff open up to each other, the culture shifts to one of openness and honesty which can be further supported by a top-down demonstrative approach where senior management are willing to open up the conversation around mental health."

Campbell suggested this as the perfect time for companies to turn talk into action.

She added: "It can be hard for employers to know where to start, especially if they think staff are concerned about how people perceive them accessing this support and would therefore prefer to handle it away from the workplace."

Kevin Daniels, workplace wellbeing team member at the University of East Anglia, said senior management's involvement in mental health initiatives is vital, and more than a question of financial investment.

He told HR magazine: "Senior management involvement is important for a number of reasons. One is actually resources - and that's not necessarily money.

"It's giving someone the time to do things to manage mental health because of course, your senior managers can provide those resources and help enable those kind of tangible changes. There's also symbolic aspects as well, which is signalling that mental health is important.

CCLA carried out the research during March 2022 and surveyed 100 of the UK's largest companies.