Thames Water's approach to mental health 'ahead of the curve'

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Thames Water is “ahead of the curve” with its approach to mental health and wellbeing, Sky News reported this morning.


An independent review called Thriving at Work, commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May and published today, explores how companies can better support all employees.


Around 300,000 people across the country lose their jobs each year due to a long-term mental health injury, the report revealed. It also highlighted the good practice at Thames Water, praising its mental health first aid courses and focus on wellbeing, including free personal medical assessments for all employees.


Speaking to Sky, Thames Water’s Karl Simons, head of health, safety, security and wellbeing, said: “Wellbeing at work is vitally important to ensure everybody feels valued within the organisation. Our people have to feel that."


Following his interview at Walnut Court in Swindon, in front of a Tai Chi class, held as part of Thames Water’s Water Wellbeing Week, he added: “We know that our staff are able to do their best work when they’re healthy and happy. That’s why we’ve put employee wellbeing at the heart of everything we do. We know that we can still do more, but alongside improved support we’ve seen a considerable culture change and a more open conversation around the importance of mental health.”


Hundreds of Thames Water employees have taken part in activities during Water Wellbeing Week, including Pilates, kickboxing, military bootcamps and cycling classes.


Today’s new report, Thriving at Work, sets out core principles and standards that all employers should commit to and highlights examples of some employers who are taking positive and innovative steps to support the mental health of their employees.


Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “We found that in many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject and that opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who may be struggling get the support they need. In many instances employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.


“The human cost of failing to address mental health in the workplace is clear. Workplace mental health should be a priority for organisations across the UK. Every employer in the UK has a responsibility to support employees with mental health problems and promote the mental wellbeing of their entire workforce.”


The report drew on accounts of more than 200 employers of people with mental health problems and leading experts in mental health and work.