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Prince William and CancerCare get ‘Heads Together’ for mental health in Cumbria

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (Photo by Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

[A] Cumbrian cancer charity joined The Duke of Cambridge and eminent businesspeople to look at ways of supporting good mental health in the workplace.

CancerCare, which has bases in Kendal, Barrow and Lancaster, was honoured to be invited to London by The Royal Foundation and Mind to speak about the challenges facing small and medium sized organisations.

Prince William urged Alison Stainthorpe, Head of Operations for CancerCare, and representatives from leading organisations such as the Environment Agency, Virgin Trains, Historic England, WHSmith, Deloitte, Unilever and Aviva, to support his ‘Heads Together’ workplace wellbeing programme.

The Duke also urged everyone to assist in the development of a new ‘Mental Health at Work’ website which will bring together resources for employers and employees.

Alison said: “It was a huge honour for CancerCare to be invited to the Workforce Wellbeing Conference.

“Prince William came in early and greeted everyone and then there was a round-table discussion for about 50 minutes.

“They acknowledged that as a relatively small charity in the North West, we had made a start on new ways of supporting employees with mental health issues.

“We were really honoured to have the discussion about wellbeing in the workplace.

“During the meeting we talked about how some of the bigger businesses could help the likes of CancerCare and other small to medium-sized organisations with smaller budgets up and down the country.

“The bigger organisations are going to share their expertise and show others what works.

“There will be a website to bring together resources and support. The online training portal will help small to medium-sized enterprises to support better workplace mental health.

“There will also be online support available to employees. The aim is that employees will feel empowered to support themselves and their colleagues. Another goal is to ensure good practice.”

Led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Heads Together unites eight mental health charities, including Mind.

Since May 2016, Heads Together has encouraged millions of people to have important conversations about mental health.

Prince William said: “Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health.

“This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives.

“Heads Together wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.”

Alison explained: “At CancerCare we are trying to raise awareness, break down barriers and discuss the stigma attached to mental health.

“By having these conversations and encouraging staff to talk about their lived experience, we hope to create an environment whereby our staff feel supported in the workplace and are more aware and responsive to their own colleagues’ mental health issues.”

Money raised by Heads Together is now supporting innovative projects to tackle the challenges everyone can face when talking about mental health.

This includes a £2 million fund to create digital tools for young people seeking help for their mental health online and new programmes to support mental health in schools, workplaces and the defence community.

Statistics show that the cost to employers of poor workplace mental health is between £33 billion and £42 billion.

Around 15 per cent of those in work in England have symptoms of a mental health problem.

While the overall rate of sickness absence has fallen by 15 to 20 per cent since 2009, absence for mental health reasons in this period has risen by around five per cent.

A total of 300,000 people with long term mental health problems lose their jobs each year; a much higher rate than those with physical health problems.

For more information on the services provided by CancerCare please go to www.cancercare.org.uk

For details of Heads Together please go to www.headstogether.org.uk

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