Last week, Oxford PharmaGenesis, the independent global HealthScience communications consultancy, ran a 2-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course in partnership with the mental health charity Mind for 15 employees from our Oxford, Cardiff and London offices.
The well-being of employees is a priority for our company; the 2-day MHFA course covered everything from stress in the workplace to severe depression and schizophrenia, and taught employees the best methods for approaching people who may be displaying signs that they are struggling with their mental health. As well as the importance of looking for these signs in others, the course also highlighted the importance of our own mental well-being.
Following this excellent course, our new group of mental health first-aiders are reassured that they can help their colleagues when needed and begin to increase awareness across the wider company. Following great feedback from those involved, we are hoping to run further courses in the future.
In the UK, evidence suggests that the loss of approximately 7 million working days each year can be attributed to mental health conditions. This corresponds to approximately 12.7% of all sickness absences nationwide, and costs UK employers an estimated £34.9 billion. In addition, 90% of people experience mental health stigma or discrimination. Given these startling figures, we hoped to build on our previous efforts to raise awareness of these issues. Oxford PharmaGenesis regularly organizes well-being initiatives for our employees. For example, earlier this year we dedicated the whole of April to improvement of personal well-being, focusing on five important steps: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. To address each of these steps we ran multiple events, including a visit from several friendly dogs in our Philadelphia office, an inter-office football match, games and card-making clubs to facilitate new connections between employees, and an introduction to mindful eating. In addition to benefiting the well-being of our employees, we were pleased to be able to raise over £500 for Mind!