Unilever pledges to tackle mental wellbeing and resilience

Today, World Mental Health Day, Unilever has announced that it is the latest company to sign up to the Public Health Responsibility Deal’s Mental Health and Wellbeing pledge.

The pledge, which is the twelfth to which Unilever has signed up, aims to improve the workplace support which employers provide for people with a mental health condition. Through signing up, Unilever has committed to raising the awareness of mental resilience among its 7,000 UK and Ireland based employees, providing training and support for managers and ensuring its HR policies comply with the mental health adjustment guidance principles.

Kicking off its awareness raising efforts, the consumer goods company has today launched its employee mental resilience campaign, ‘What are you really trying to say?’ to break down the stigma of mental health and encourage employees to discuss their mental wellbeing, just as they would their physical health.

The campaign focuses on four areas through which to raise awareness: leadership and management; communications and culture; building resilience and managing pressure; and support. Through the campaign, employees will be provided access to a variety of support resources including a 24/7 employee assistance programme for employees and their families; a personal resilience tool and a team-based resilience workshop.

Tim Munden, VP HR, Unilever UK & Ireland, said, “Mental health conditions affect all parts of society and we know that one in six workers is currently dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress, and one in four will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life. 1

“Mental resilience is equally as important as physical health and yet it is rarely talked about. We, as an employer, have a responsibility to drive a supportive culture to help break down the stigma of mental health, particularly at a time where the recession and other external factors are causing increased levels of stress and anxiety.

“Through signing up to the Mental Health Adjustment pledge and launching our internal campaign, we want to ensure that each and every employee is just one conversation, one phone call or one click from the support they might need to combat mental health issues.”

Dame Carol Black, Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health, said, “Our new, broadened, Responsibility Deal mental health pledge will help employers create an organisational culture where staff feel valued, respected and able to flourish. I am delighted that Unilever is one of the first employers to sign up to this new pledge and I hope that others will follow their lead.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said, “It's great to see companies, like Unilever, signing up to the new mental health, wellbeing and resilience public health responsibility deal pledge. The public commitment to improve all staff’s mental health and wellbeing, alongside supporting people with mental health difficulties in the workplace, marks a tangible step towards promotion, prevention and early intervention and supporting the recovery of people with mental health difficulties.”

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