Communisis has committed 500 employee hours a year to mental health awareness after formally agreeing to sign a Time to Change employer pledge.
Making the announcement to tie in with World Mental Health Day, which took place last Tuesday (10 October), the commitment involves the launch of initiatives that include a new internal mental health and wellbeing group and a mental health training programme for its HR team.
Communisis confirmed that when the pledge is formally signed by its board in November it will equate to 500 hours of time across the business for its circa-2,000 staff each year for mental health support, although HR director Andrew Neal said this could work out as much more.
“We acknowledge that mental health and mental health awareness is a significant issue and you can’t escape what’s going on in the press,” said Neal.
“At the start of the year there was an awful lot of traction, which was great and raised the profile. It gave us a national impetus to drive it into the business as well and coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week in May. We got behind that and that was around sharing information, help, support and guidance but mostly signposting people to areas of support.”
Communisis works with the likes of the Mind mental health charity and also runs its own Employee Assistance Programme in partnership with Bupa. Each of its 10 UK sites are encouraged to host their own events and invite speakers to discuss the issues, one example being the Newcastle branch inviting rugby league player Luke Ambler to discuss his work in setting up male suicide prevention group Andy’s Man Club.
“The rationale is this will never work as a top-down initiative, you can’t just tell people to do it, it has to grow organically and be what people want,” added Neal.
Time to Change says that mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing around £1,000 per employee per year, yet 95% of employees calling in sick with stress give a different reason for their absence.
World Mental Health Day takes place annually and is aimed at highlighting the challenges faced worldwide from mental health issues.
Check out next week's PrintWeek magazine for an in-depth look at how the sector is coping with the challenges posed by mental health.