Belfast Telegraph

Mind your head, it's essential

By Peter McBride

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day which celebrates the importance of mental wellbeing.

One of the main areas where mental health and wellbeing can be supported and strengthened is the workplace.

Today at Parliament Buildings, Niamh (the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health), along with the Equality Commission, launches the Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace initiative, which aims to support mental wellbeing across Northern Ireland.

Recent surveys have shown that one-in-four people is uncomfortable having someone who experiences mental ill-health as a work colleague, or a neighbour, and one-in-three is uncomfortable having this person as an in-law.

Our event today focuses on another aspect of our Change your Mind campaign and will include a range of training and advice for employers that will help improve mental wellbeing at work.

This includes resource packs and awareness-raising sessions with networks of employers in the retail and hospitality industries, among others.

Busy work schedules, pressure from bosses and other challenges can be part of our day-to-day stress. For some, however, prolonged periods of stress can lead to mental health problems.

As well as these challenges, the wider economic environment and corresponding increase in pressure means that supporting mental health of employees is more important than ever.

Today's initiative is specifically aimed at employers. As well as improved wellbeing among workforces, the Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace initiative leads to stronger organisations.

Part of our campaign against the stigma of mental illness includes challenging stigma in the workplace. There are already many companies successfully implementing good practice in Northern Ireland. They see how important a healthy team is.

By being open and honest about the challenges around mental health, this initiative will ensure stronger and more effective support for mental wellbeing at work.

Peter McBride is group chief executive of the Northern Ireland Association for mental Health (Niamh)

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