In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem each year. This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, a time to recognise and take action against the challenges that poor mental health presents to individuals, communities and organisations.

The overall number of people experiencing mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, but an individual’s ability to cope appears to be deteriorating. Today, three-quarters of employers are concerned about the impacts of a high-pressure working environment on the mental wellbeing of staff. In 2017 mental illness was the primary cause of long-term absence in 22% of organisations, with research showing that the wellbeing of employees is linked to talent recruitment and retention, employee engagement and productivity.

Mental health and wellbeing at Wessex Archaeology

The scale of mental health and wellbeing challenges affecting both individuals and the productivity of companies is widely recognised. At Wessex Archaeology, we have put in place systems for monitoring the mental wellbeing of our employees, and how this is affecting the organisation as a whole. We are only as good as our people, and we recognise that feeling good and functioning well at work is important for the overall wellbeing of the organisation. We, as a team, are not immune to mental health problems and we are also conscious that work place stress can be a contributing factor.

As a result we have launched our new “Feeling good and functioning well” - Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

As an important part of our People Development strategy, we have chosen to prioritise a range of positive steps to improve our approach to mental health and wellbeing. This includes actively promoting the wellbeing and emotional health resources available, enabling easier access to these resources and via our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and remind staff that everyone has free and confidential access to this service. We also plan to deliver mental health awareness training for all staff and provide selected staff with Mental Health First Aid training, alongside other longer-term initiatives in the pipeline.