Opinion 

Positive mental health is vital for a flourishing future workforce

Anastasia Vinnikova

Anastasia Vinnikova

In recent years we have seen staggering statistics on the impact of mental health on the UK workforce. 

Mental ill health is responsible for up to 91 million working days lost every year, costs employers £34.9bn annually, and can affect anyone. And for the young workforce, such as graduates, school leavers and apprentices, the transition from study into the workplace can be a particular time of change and stress.

For many, taking a first job in the City, can mean moving away from home and their support network of family and friends.

Research from the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) recently revealed that 69 per cent of graduates and students planning a career in financial, legal and professional services would not describe themselves as completely mentally healthy and 62 per cent were concerned about the impact a new role would have on their mental health.

Despite this, only 40 per cent said that they would feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with their manager.

These statistics show that young employees still fear the stigma often associated with mental health in the workplace. 

However, while these survey results are worrying, there is an opportunity for employers to play a bigger part in supporting the mental health of employees in their early career.

Employers can play a role in supporting the mental health of employees as they start early careers, whether it be someone who has been living with a long-standing mental health condition, such as bi-polar disorder, or someone who is experiencing a mental health issue because of environmental factors.  

At the Bank of England, we aim to provide this support by using our ‘Think well, live well, be well’ motto as a platform for all graduates, from recruitment right through to early careers training.

Through our graduate induction we seek to encompass much more than just learning how to do the job – it’s about ensuring our graduates have the right skills to make a difference from day one and feel supported every step of the way.

Introducing diversity initiatives, such as employee networks, wellbeing champions and personal resilience sessions to graduate joiners, can also be a valuable way to demonstrate a genuine commitment to their wellbeing and can work towards dispelling the myths surrounding mental health and explore ways of maintaining energy in the workplace.

Having a strong mental health strategy in place to help individuals transitioning into their new work life will provide the support they need and will ensure they feel they can share their experiences from their first day. 

A vital part of this support comes from managers and leaders understanding mental health and having the skills to talk about mental wellbeing with their team.

For example, workplace training from the Samaritans on how to spot the early signs of mental distress or specific line manager training can provide the ability to have positive, constructive mental health conversations with colleagues and is crucial for supporting young employees. 

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