THE BLOG

UK Companies Have A Huge Part To Play In Improving The Lives Of People With Mental Health Problems

02/03/2017 09:01 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 10:10 GMT

When it comes to mental health, the statistics have never been more alarming. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year, but three quarters of people with a mental health problem aren't getting any support. Seventeen people take their own lives each day, and the UK's suicide rate continues to increase.

At Mind, we know that almost one in six workers have experienced mental health problems at work, with the cost to employers estimated at £26 billion each year. The economic and societal costs of mental health problems are estimated to be at least £105bn a year. There's not an employer in the country that doesn't have a part to play in improving mental health - not just in supporting the wellbeing of their workforce but in supporting charities like Mind to continue our work.

This is why we are so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Societe Generale, the European financial services group, over the last two years. Societe Generale have championed wellbeing in their workplace and employees have benefitted from the partnership, thanks to a number of awareness raising events including a series of 'Mind Weeks' to encourage colleagues to consider their own mental health. During these campaigns, employees were offered a number of wellbeing activities including yoga, running clubs and meditation.

In addition, we are incredibly grateful to the company for its tremendous fundraising efforts and support for Mind over the course of our two-year partnership. Societe Generale smashed their fundraising target of £600,000, raising more than £750,000 for Mind and, despite the partnership now coming to an end, these vital funds will continue to make a difference long into the future, both to the lives of thousands of people who are experiencing mental health problems, and to their family and friends.

To raise such a huge sum was not an easy feat. Over the two-year partnership, Societe Generale organised a range of fundraising events to help meet, and exceed, their fundraising target. The list was endless and made sure there was something for everyone; there were midnight marathons, rugby tournaments, 5k runs, dragon boat races and much more.

I had the pleasure of joining over 100 Societe Generale employees to take to London's streets and complete a midnight marathon -I was extremely relieved to discover this was a walking marathon, not a run! It was fantastic to see so much of London on foot at night, and have the opportunity to get to know many of the wonderful Societe Generale employees who raised £94,000 during this event.

The funds raised during the partnership have supported Mind and Societe Generale's 'Advice to Action' campaign, helping people with mental health problems to get back on track. This campaign has helped Mind to answer almost 40,000 queries to our Infoline and text service, providing advice and information so that people can choose the support that is right for them. It has also funded 21 projects for people with mental health problems to get support, build confidence and find employment in their communities. This has enabled us to provide life-changing, in-depth support to people experiencing mental health problems.

One of the funded projects is the 'Next Steps' programme, established to support unemployed people in Preston with mental health problems turn their lives around. The project has so far supported 20 unemployed people from the city to get back into work, volunteering and training. This project has been truly ground-breaking; the success of the project has transformed the way our local Mind in the area approaches wellbeing, by offering tailored individual support and awareness training to overcome the barriers people living with a mental health problem experience when looking for, or staying in, employment.

In addition to fundraising, Societe Generale employees have given almost 800 hours supporting Mind and local Minds, including workshops for local Mind creative therapies groups at the V&A Museum, Excel training sessions for beneficiaries, as well as volunteering in Mind shops, and we are so grateful for this.

Though the partnership has now ended, I have no doubt that the huge effort and contribution Societe Generale has shown will ensure that we are able to continue to provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

For information, support and advice please visit our website at www.mind.org.uk or call Mind's Infoline on 0300 123 3393 (lines open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm).

This blog was amended on Thursday 9 March to correctly state that one in six workers have experienced mental health problems at work. A previous version said one in three.