Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has today launched a new Mental Health Charter to recognise employers who are going the extra mile to look after the welfare of their staff.

It is part of the Chamber’s campaign to keep the mental health debate at the very top of the agenda as companies tentatively emerge from lockdown.

Every company which signs up to the free charter receives a certificate of recognition. In return, all they have to do is pledge to adopt three key principles:

  • Engaging with and embracing the mental health agenda
  • Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace
  • Identifying and providing sources of information and support regarding mental health

Among the first to sign up are the county’s two local authorities, Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council.

Shropshire CouncilChief executive of Shropshire Council, Andy Begley, said: “After a particularly difficult year, it’s no surprise that mental health is high on everyone's agenda.

“As a council we have always promoted open conversations around mental health, and have lots of support in place to help people when they need it, including a newly-appointed wellbeing officer.

“However, we can and should do more. This is why I was eager to sign Shropshire Chamber of Commerce’s new Mental Health Charter.”

David Sidaway, chief executive of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “We already have a number of initiatives in place to support employee wellbeing relating to mental health, with further projects in the pipeline.

“This in an agenda we are eager to develop and so we are delighted to sign up to the Mental Health Charter as a sign of our commitment.”

To follow in their footsteps and sign up to the charter, companies simply have to go to www.shropshire-chamber.co.uk/policy-representation/mental-health-charter-2021/

Richard Sheehan, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, said: “Looking after the mental health of staff is more crucial than ever as people gradually return to the workplace.

“Some people have had virtually all social contact removed during lockdown, and may be filled with trepidation at the thought of going back into the office, or nervous about jumping into the world of networking again.

“Shropshire Chamber’s cross-sector connectivity allows us to play a serious and constructive part in this debate – and we’re determined to keep mental health right at the top of the agenda.

“We would urge every single employer in the county to sign up to this charter to help achieve these goals.”

The charter has been developed in conjunction with Merulae, the bespoke training and counselling services, based in Shrewsbury.

Founder and counsellor Wendy Brook said: “Signing the charter is an important first step in starting the conversation around mental health, and in doing so reducing the stigma and discrimination which is a barrier for many in accessing the support or help they need.

“It is the beginning of a vital journey which has the potential to reduce sickness, absence and presenteeism, and reduce the hefty costs to the business and the person.”

By making the pledge, businesses will be promising to open up the mental health debate, and provide a structure which promotes awareness, and access to training and support.

Mr Sheehan said: “Everyone in the workplace has a right to an environment which promotes good mental health and wellbeing.

“And from an employer’s point of view, it’s a win-win situation, because a happy employee is a more loyal and productive employee.

“We are not expecting Shropshire employers to suddenly become mental health professionals; often, it’s simply a case of creating an environment in which staff feel confident and comfortable enough to talk through their issues, with suitable training and support available.”

Shropshire Council chief executive Andy Begley signs the charter.

Telford & Wrekin Council chief executive David Sidaway, and leader Shaun Davies, signing the charter.