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Swindon Mindful Employer Network to relaunch as workplace mental health crisis deepens

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Ian LarrardIan LarrardSwindon Mindful Employer Network is to relaunch in the face of a mental health crisis, with one-in-four workers in the UK expected to experience a mental health problem this year.

Mental health is linked to a variety of workplace issues including absenteeism, increased staff turnover and poor performance, and poses a complex set of challenges for business owners and managers to deal with.

Common mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression often carry a great deal of shame and stigma, meaning that it is sometimes difficult - particularly for smaller businesses - to spot the signs early and make adjustments for employees in crisis.

Responding to this need to help destigmatise and minimise the impact of mental health issues in the workplace, Swindon Mindful Employer Network (SMEN) will relaunch in October to help empower organisations – large and small – support the mental wellbeing of their staff.

SMEN will not only provide expert advice and guidance to businesses, it will act as a forum for business owners and managers to share their experiences with peers and mental health professionals, keeping them informed as mental health and wellbeing in the workplace best practice develops.

The relaunch event on October 14 from 9.30am to 12.30pm – the first of five events delivered throughout 2019/2020 – is to be held at Alexandra House, and will feature talks from three expert guest speakers, who will give their take on how to approach mental health and wellbeing in the workplace in times of change.

Senior immigration lawyer at Osborne Clarke, Helga Butler, will discuss the impact of Brexit on staff morale and wellbeing; Steve Bewick, senior vice president of Dormakaba, will explain why putting people first is crucial when managing change; and Faye Whitmarsh, head of culture and engagement at Nationwide, will outline the steps Nationwide has taken to promote staff wellbeing during times of economic uncertainty.

Ian Larrard, director of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said: "We work with thousands of businesses across Swindon & Wiltshire, many of whom will have experienced difficulties with staff mental health and wellbeing in the past.

“Part of the role of the Initiative is to help guide and challenge businesses to do the right thing, meaning that we are a vocal champion for removing the stigma of mental health and enhancing wellbeing for everyone that works in Swindon.

“Accordingly, we are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Swindon Borough Council and Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind to deliver Swindon Mindful Employer’s Network. SMEN will allow us to widen business engagement on the issue and better signpost businesses and individuals to the latest advice, information and guidance.”

Hazel Howe, CEO of Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind, said: "Swindon & Gloucestershire Mind are proud to host the Swindon Mindful Employer Network, enabling the opportunity for employers and employees to access expert support, advice and understanding on mental ill-health.

“Businesses are increasingly aware of the role that they play in terms of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

“Swindon Mindful Employer’s Network is a fantastic forum to help broaden participation in and open up the conversation about this very important issue.

“Through partnering with Business West, we will be able to grow the network and reach more and more businesses in need of advice across Swindon & Wiltshire.”

SMEN is funded by Swindon Borough Council and is delivered in partnership with Business West and Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind.

Launched back in 2004, Mindful Employer is a UK wide initiative, which provides employers with easy access to professional workplace mental health training, information and advice through local business networks.

Founded as Swindon Mind in 1990, Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind was merged in 2018 in order to deliver a wider range of enhanced mental health support services across the two areas.

The event is free to attend. For more information, or to book a place, visit https://smen-october-2019.eventbrite.co.uk