Taking the initiative

12th May 2022


Liam Simpson
Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing


Mental Health Awareness Week is here and as Head of Health, Safety and Well-being at Wilson James, it’s my job to ensure that the company’s workplace mental health programme meets the needs of employees across all areas of the business.

Employee Well-being has risen up the corporate agenda over the last decade and building healthy workplaces is now seen as integral to creating a more productive and happy working environment. As someone who focuses on this issue, the stereotypes surrounding mental health are being broken down and addressed in a positive way, and collectively we generally have a great deal more empathy and understanding about problems faced by those in a vulnerable physical and psychological state.

Number Crunching

As well as profoundly affecting the individual(s) concerned, poor employee mental health has severe repercussions for employers in terms of staff turnover, decreased productivity, and absence from sickness. In 2020-21 822,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression, or anxiety. Furthermore, in 2018-19 12.8 million working days were lost due to poor mental health.

On a positive note, a survey by CIPD and Simply health found that steps are being taken to address this issue and that over half of organisations now take a strategic approach to employee Well-being. We @WilsonJames are much more open to reporting on the number of positive activities Well-being is having both on the individual and at an organisational level.

Leading from the Front

Overall Well-being is enhanced by good organisational practices and policies. Companies must take an inclusive approach and encourage all relevant stakeholders to get involved in ensuring that everyone is aware of the issues surrounding mental health issues. As my role attests, Wilson James takes the issue of workplace mental health seriously and has developed a comprehensive programme of initiatives to support its employees.

Wilson James has created a community of trained volunteers who can be contacted 24/7 to a Listening Ear, this service is there for individuals who feel anxious, worried, or just wants somebody to listen. Developed in partnership with The Wellbeing Project, this is fully confidential and we only gather data to ascertain what type of issues are particularly affecting Wilson James employees.

First Impression

Complementing our Listening Ear’s initiative we have a community of Mental Health First Aiders, this forms part of our partnership with Mind. This dedicated team is there to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue and where necessary will sign post to further professional support if required.

Wilson James as a comprehensive Health and Well-being Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Created in collaboration with Vivup, employees have access to confidential counselling services and online support. The EAP offers guidance on an array of health affecting topics including mental fitness, stress and dependent family support, with access to professional support. It provides a confidential telephone helpline that is available 24/7.

Additionally in collaboration with The Wellbeing Project, we delivered Wraw (Workplace Resilience and Well-being) training to 400 managers/supervisors across the organisation. Wraw is now an internal training capability that is being delivered across all our sectors, its a psychometric tool and survey that measures resilience and its impact on Well-being, it can be done either as an individual or as part of a group session. The five pillar’s of focus are, energyfuture focusinner driveflexible thinking and strong relationships which helps build healthier and higher performance within individuals to ensure organisations can maximise efficiency and deliver improved performance.

Stronger Together

It’s incumbent upon us all to remain vigilant when it comes to mental health. Companies that have established workplace mental health programmes will be much better prepared when it comes to supporting employees and it is important to recognise different individual requirements to make them truly effective. At Wilson James we recognised this makes a real difference and will continue to support our colleagues throughout 2022 and beyond.


Mental Health Awareness Week; https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

822,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety; https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf

2018-19 12.8 million lost working days were lost due to poor mental health; https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1746713/12-million-working-days-lost-to-work-related-mental-health-conditions

survey by CIPD and Simplyhealth; https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-wellbeing-work-report-2022_tcm18-108440.pdf

Mind; https://www.mind.org.uk

The Wellbeing Project; https://thewellbeingproject.co.uk

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP); https://www.vivupbenefits.co.uk/news/wilson-james-launches-new-health-and-wellbeing-platform-to-support-employees-through-the-pandemic-and-beyond/