Mental health is currently a priority for East Anglian businesses

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A straw poll of over 100 Human Resources (HR) professionals, taken at a conference in the region this week, revealed that 94% are now taking positive steps within their businesses to support their staff’s mental health.

The Conference – hosted jointly by Ashtons HR Consulting, law firm Ashtons Legal and recruitment specialists HAYS – had mental health high on the agenda. A separate show of hands revealed, however, that only 23% of delegates regarded stress as the biggest issue currently faced in the workplace. One of the sessions that attracted the most feedback questions was around the rights of workers from outside the UK to continue to be employed here post-Brexit.

The Conference, held at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest, was attended by 140 HR practitioners and employers, representing a broad cross-section of regional businesses including: transport and logistics providers; manufacturers; schools and colleges; hotels and other leisure sector businesses; care sector providers; financial organisations; professional services businesses and charities.

The Conference was chaired by Antony Sloan, who is both CEO of Ashtons HR Consulting and HR Director at Ashtons Legal, who is passionate about the importance of Health & Wellbeing and has already taken steps to ensure that Ashtons Legal has a pro-active Health & Wellbeing group. Training is currently planned for staff volunteers to ensure that Ashtons will soon have a team of Mental Health First Aiders.

Antony Sloan said: “As an organisation – and as just individuals operating in modern society – stress is one of the biggest factors on our health, yet mental health concerns are still often taboo. One in six members of the UK work force experiences stress, anxiety or depression, yet worryingly 19% of staff feel that they are unable to speak to managers about how they are feeling”.

He adds: “Here at Ashtons Legal and Ashtons HR Consulting, we regularly share content and implement initiatives centered on keeping our staff healthy, both physically and mentally. Whether that’s our January Step Challenge or providing each staff member with a surprise Kit Kat on their desk back with a note reminding them to ‘Take a Break’. By providing such reminders we will feel a sense of wellbeing which is something we see as crucial to our good health”.

Mental health continues to be a hot topic nationally, but is particularly uppermost in the minds of many in East Anglia due to the chronic shortage of resource locally and the fact that the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has not yet been able to shake off its ‘inadequate’ rating from the Care Quality Commission.


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