As written by Hannah Baker for the Bristol Business Post;

“Speaking about mental health is never easy. But it’s an especially difficult subject to discuss in the workplace. Some 76 percent of professionals would be uncomfortable discussing mental health at work, according to research by recruitment companu Robert Walters.

A huge 82 percent are concerned about how co-workers will perceive them, while 78 percent are scared it might damage career prospects. But a lack of mental health management is actually costing employers between £3 billion and £42 billion a year, a recent independent review of mental health and employers found.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I am hoping that attitudes in the workplace are beginning to change as understanding around mental illness grows.

Last week, business leaders from across Bristol gathered at the vibrant, quirky offices of interior design consultancy Wylde IA in Lawrence Hill to discuss this exact subject.

The company was hosting an event on wellbeing in the workplace – and why it’s important for employers to develop a better understanding of the meaning of ‘wellness’.

Tom Hore, director of mental health charity Bristol Mind, pointed out that it is important that businesses look beyond giving out free fruit and organising yoga classes to actually focus on creating workspaces where staff feel comfortable discussing mental health.

The work Wylde IA does is focussed around designing workplaces that support employees’ physical and emotional wellbeing. Each year the company runs a Happiest Workplace competition in the South West, recognising businesses in the region that have made an outstanding effort to prioritise the wellbeing of staff.

Last year, three Bristol companies scooped awards. Independent film production company Icon Films won the happiest large business for its “creative and nurturing” space; internal communications company HOME won the prize for the medium sized category; and marketing agency Noisy Little Monkey was presented with an award for the best small business in the region.

Maxine believes the workplace is a “precarious balancing act” between employer and employee. She explained: “One cannot benefit without the other and the employer soon learns that the employee’s wellness is ultimately the difference between a good business and an exceptionally successful one.” ”