KEY local employers have praised the Swindon Mindful Employer network which is celebrating 10 years of improving mental health in the workplace.

The network started in 2008 and is now one of the largest local mental health networks for business in the UK. It has hosted guest speakers and provided free workshops to spread the message that good mental health is also good for business.

Martin Nugent, employee relations manager, at The National Trust, has said: “Having healthy staff and volunteers is crucial and appreciating the impact of mental health on our workplaces is key to our operations.”

Natalie Gilhooley, Employee Engagement & Wellbeing Manager, Nationwide Building Society: said “The network has increased our understanding of mental ill health and its impact on our employees at work.

“This has helped us to further develop our policies and practices in this support of our employees’ wellbeing. It’s also a great way to forge relationships with other organisations and share best practice and experience.”

David Latham, founder of the Swindon Mindful Employer Network, told the Adver: “If you engage your staff and have a positive environment and your staff enjoy working for you then mental health can improve.

“It’s about leadership, resilience and wellbeing. And it starts at the top. It starts with the people running the business and with the boardroom. It’s their responsibility to have a positive impact on mental health.

“Once you get the senior management saying, ‘we need to do more, we need to be more open’ then people down the chain of command can talk about stress and mental health more.

“The more resilient the businesses are, the more competitive they are and the more successful they are. That seems to have worked to the point where I don’t have a problem filling a conference room. We know that businesses are making changes back in their workplace.”

Network Deputy Chairman Mike Godfrey of Business West says: “Many businesses have benefitted from the knowledge gained from attending the network, and others have got very involved in supporting the effort to create positive workplaces for people suffering mental health issues.

“We are always grateful for businesses also offering to host our events which have over a hundred representatives attending.”