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Water sector's 'refreshing' results in tackling mental health

Almost three quarters of companies in the water sector routinely monitor their workforce's wellbeing, according to a new report.

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The Benchmarking against the Thriving at Work standards for mental health provision report, published last month by Thames Water, is the second benchmarking exercise to be undertaken against the Thriving at Work Report standards, produced by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive of Mind.

The independent review, published in 2017, found that poor mental health costs employers up to £42bn a year with an annual cost to the UK economy of £99bn.

The review set out a framework for all UK employers, regardless of their size or industry, to improve workplace mental health. Through evidence and best practice, the review sets out six mental health core standards for employers. There are also several enhanced standards for larger employers to lead the way in mental health provision.

In July 2019, the first utilities sector benchmarking exercise was undertaken against the Thriving at Work standards. The aim of the benchmarking survey was to assess mental health provision across the water industry.

The survey found that 73% of the firms surveyed said that they already produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan, while every one of the 15 companies have ongoing mental health awareness among employees and promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors.

More than 86% said that their organisation encourages open conversations about mental health and provides support when employees are struggling, and 87% provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development.

The final of the core standards asked whether organisations routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing, with 73% believe their organisation meets this standard.

"It was refreshing to witness first-hand the appetite towards undertaking the survey from my peers leading  OSH in each of these major companies that make up the national sector," Karl Simons, chief health, safety and security officer at Thames Water and co-author of the report, told IOSH Magazine.

"The benchmarking exercise took several months to complete and validate the results, which were presented to all in Edinburgh at the end of last year, showing 87% of organisations achieving compliance against the six core standards and 68% go that stage further in demonstrating compliance to all 10 core and enhanced standards. It is clear the organisations are acknowledging their role in supporting mental health within the workplace, so all can thrive whilst at work."

 

 

Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

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