This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to talk about what we, as organisations, can do to help people who are faced with mental health challenges every day. With around 12 million people in the UK1 experiencing poor mental health, this is an incredibly important issue.
Alongside my day job at Lloyds Banking Group, I support the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust as a Non-Executive Director. The Trust provides mental health support services in the North West of England and is an lifeline to so many. It offers specialist support for mental health, learning disabilities, addiction services and acquired brain injury. It’s one of only three trusts in England to do so.
I’ve long had a strong personal interest in mental health and I am therefore incredibly proud that Lloyds Banking Group has chosen Mental Health UK (MHUK) as its charity of the year. This network of charities right across the UK runs over 400 services and 200 volunteer support groups, helping over 90,000 people each year.
What’s more, we are working with MHUK to launch the UK’s first combined Mental Health and Money Advice Service. Given the proven relationship between mental health and financial wellbeing, this service is crucial to supporting people who are worried about their finances as a result of mental illness, or vice versa.
I’m really pleased to see that this year’s World Mental Health Day theme is mental health in the workplace. This is such an important subject to highlight, not just from a general productivity perspective but given how much of our lives we spend working, our mental wellbeing must be protected at work.
In addition to the work with MHUK, there is a real focus on our colleagues’ mental wellbeing within Lloyds Banking Group. We provide a dedicated 24/7 support line for all colleagues, which is entirely confidential and will support them with any worries they may have. This is also available for line managers who might want to understand how they can better support their own teams if they have any mental health concerns.
Digital can undoubtedly play an important role in improving mental health. We recently ran a colleague pilot to offer free subscription to a variety of mental wellbeing apps. These ranged in their purpose, from meditation to game-style content to more bespoke and specific support. It was so encouraging to see how many people signed up. We asked colleagues why they wanted to be involved and it was fascinating to understand how wide-ranging these reasons are, from lack of sleep to anxiety to far more serious concerns.
The response we received was incredible. Not only was the take-up higher than anticipated, the ‘before and after’ feedback from those who took part showed really clearly that there was an extremely positive impact. People felt happier, more relaxed and far less concerned than before.
This is just some of what we’ve been doing and we’re always looking to do more. And today is a great day to get even more focus on such an important subject.