According to NHS Digital, at any one time, one sixth of the population of England aged between 16 to 64 has a mental health problem, while approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem each year.

Aside from the fundamental societal need to ensure people are happy and well, poor mental health is also affecting business. For businesses and workers alike, the statistics point to significant costs: an estimated £42 billion per year in sick leave and lost productivity which in turn limits wage growth and increases job insecurity.

Our staff are our greatest asset, vital to Wessex Archaeology’s long-term success. Workplace wellbeing is therefore at the top of our organisation’s agenda. We want to recruit, develop, support and retain a resilient and happy employee community; we want our people to enjoy their work and achieve their highest potential.

Earlier this year, we launched our workplace mental health strategy: ‘Feeling good and functioning well’. It sets out our approach to ensuring that the wellbeing and mental health of our people is at the heart of our business culture and directs our behaviours. 

The approach is a holistic one and has two key strands – prevention and management. 

Prevention encompasses everything that Wessex Archaeology can do to promote wellbeing and fulfilment in the workplace. A safe workspace is an absolute right and we take that very seriously. For our people to ‘feel good and function well’ the workplace needs to perform beyond basic safety; proving the environment and support for us to do our best work. 

Management means the ways in which we can respond to a colleague who presents with a mental health problem or whose wellbeing or mental health deteriorates, whether that is caused by work or other factors. We need to be able to spot the signs of mental ill health in our colleagues and know how to respond appropriately, even in a crisis.  We also want staff to feel comfortable coming forward for help if affected by a mental health problem – and that requires a workplace culture that is empathetic, supportive and flexible.

Strides have already been made towards achieving a workplace that puts employee mental health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda.

We’ve had a fantastic response from members of the team in taking up the opportunity to have Mental Health Awareness training and becoming our first responders. You’ll hear later in the week from staff that have been on the course and how it has helped their understanding of the subject, as well as equipping them with the skills to identify and help us to respond to any mental health issues.

Chris Brayne, Wessex Archaeology CEO