Breaking the silence: how we’re championing the importance of mental well-being at work.

Poor mental health costs UK employers £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence but the emotional cost to employees and their families is far greater and often longer lasting.

As a business that cares about its employees, we want to look after both the physical and mental wellbeing of our team members. Working closely with a sector which has one of the poorest records for mental health, we are only too aware of the devastating consequences of ignoring the sometimes-subtle signs that someone might be struggling. That’s why we now have trained mental health first-aiders in our Solihull office.

Team members, Cheryl Howard, Andrea Jenkinson, Carmela Casamassa and Wayne Porter put themselves forward for a Mental Health First Aid Training Course with the St John’s Ambulance, enabling them to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA’s).

We want to foster a positive and supportive culture, where physical and mental health are taken equally seriously and our MHFA’s will help us break-down the stigma around mental health issues and make us all much more aware of the triggers. By providing information, hosting informal employee training sessions and just being there for people who want to confide in them, we hope our MHFA’s will help us overcome some of the barriers to discussing mental health. Our MHFA’s are trained to spot the signs that someone is struggling and can signpost them to professional help, if required.

“We’re all human beings and we all have mental health,” Cheryl Howard explains. “Most us know exactly what to do if a colleague has a physical injury but when it comes to dealing with their mental health there can be a lot of fear and misunderstanding.

“It’s about changing the culture, sharing experiences and showing that this is supported at the highest level. Only then will we start to change attitudes and improve people’s working lives.”

Our commitment to our employees’ health and wellbeing is supported by our Executive Team and Prologis UK Regional Head, Paul Weston, is keen to ensure that our approach to employee wellbeing is more than just a box-ticking exercise:

“At Prologis UK we provide free breakfasts and encourage employees to be physically active and take time away from the office at lunchtimes, enjoying the walks and nature trails around our new office at Blythe Valley Park. We’re acutely aware, however, that there is more we could be doing to help promote positive mental health in the workplace.

“Our new MHFA’s will help us break down the barriers and implement a wellbeing strategy that promotes physical and mental health in equal measure.”

It’s about changing the culture, sharing experiences and showing that this is supported at the highest level. Only then will we start to change attitudes and improve people’s working lives
Cheryl Howard, Prologis UK

In addition to giving people tips and tools to keep themselves and their colleagues healthy, our MHFA’s will also help us build a supportive culture and help us embed a long-term cultural change in an industry with one of the poorest records for mental health.

“You wouldn’t ask someone with a broken leg to run a race,’ Andrea Jenkinson explains. “We have to remember that mental illnesses such as stress or depression can be just as debilitating as physical injuries and often more so. The important first step is that we talk about mental health because until something can be talked about it can’t be managed.”

Carmela Casamassa agrees: “A healthy business is a thriving business and that means paying attention to people’s physical and mental health. As a receptionist I am usually the first point of contact for both employees and visitors arriving at the office and people often stop to chat. This puts me in the perfect position to talk to people about our commitment to mental health.”

According to a recent survey by Men’s Health Forum, 34% of men said they felt constantly stressed or under pressure at work and, in the survey of 15,000 employees across the UK by the mental health charity Mind, one in three men (32%) blamed their work for causing mental health problems, compared to one in five women (19%).

For Wayne Porter, this was an important reason to train as a MHFA.

“As the father of a teenage son and a foster carer I am acutely aware of the need to act as a role model and help other men speak openly about their mental health,” Wayne explains. “As a MHFA I hope to be able to encourage male colleagues to talk more openly about their mental health. I’d also like to help colleagues pass on good mental health management tips to their children and other family members.