Impact Stories for Mental Health


Legal & General

Good Practice 
National Grid

NHS England

NHS England

NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England. It sets the priorities and direction of the NHS and encourages and informs the national debate to improve health and care. Their ambition is for  everyone to have greater control of their health and their wellbeing, and to be supported to live longer, healthier lives. They feel it is important to set an example and ensure that they not only look after their employees but that they also encourage other businesses to take this issue seriously.

Organisations that do, will see improvements across customer satisfaction, staff retention and reduced costs. NHS England staff spend a large portion of their time at work; this time can be harnessed to positively impact their overall health, wellbeing and happiness. NHS England fosters a culture that improves the chances of people remaining well at work, whilst also providing better early intervention support. Their approach is led from the top with a Board member overseeing wellbeing, with a large emphasis on mental health. They have signed the Time to Change pledge, and our updated implementation plan will support them to go further.

NHS England have trained over 300 employees in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) so far, and intend to increase this capacity to 600 through 2016. The learning from this two-day course is increasing knowledge and understanding of how best to support others with a mental health problem and is giving them the confidence to do so. They also offer training to all line managers to give them support and guidance for how to create a healthy working environment for staff. NHS England has an Employee Assistance  Programme, which offers all staff access to confidential support, advice and, where required, counselling. They are expanding this to enable line managers to seek guidance to support staff and include access to procure mediation services locally as required. They have also introduced more hands-on tools – all staff can access a 12-month subscription, free of charge, to the mindfulness smartphone app, Headspace. And they have been sharing the free resources provided by One You across the organisation – this has led to many more everyday conversions about mental health and wellbeing at printers and kettles. NHS England are working towards achieving ‘Excellence’ accreditation for the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, which includes a Mental Health competency. They are also sharing their knowledge with primary care organisations, which operate on a much more local level, like small business. NHS England want to create best practice and there are things they are doing that anyone can implement.


Legal & General

Legal & General is a major UK employer and a leading provider of employee well-being solutions to corporate customers. Awareness about the benefits of discussing mental health has increased but it can still be difficult for people to actually find someone to talk to. Legal & General's research shows that employees feel uncomfortable talking about their mental health issues in the workplace. Only four percent of employees surveyed who have experienced depression and five percent who have experienced anxiety felt able to talk to their manager or superior about it. Yet a huge 78% of employers believed their employees would be comfortable discussing such problems at work.

Legal & General signed the Time to Change Pledge in 2013 and are committed to focusing on mental health as part of their health and wellbeing programme. In May 2016 they launched their ‘1 in 4’ campaign; the overarching strategy for all employee-facing mental health initiatives. Several colleagues shared their experiences of living with a mental health issue which generated a huge response from employees. Two of their Group Protection rehabilitation team completed a programme run by Mental Health First Aid England and became accredited Mental Health First Aid instructors. All their offices had Fire Wardens and First Aiders but who could colleagues contact about mental health matters? Mental Health First Aid instructors have now trained over 60 MHFAiders across all our locations. In May 2017 Legal & General launched a compulsory computer-based training (CBT) module for line managers on mental health and are developing a half-day mental health workshop for line managers. They have also launched the ‘Not A Red Card’ campaign which uses the power of sport to show that performance requires mental health as well as physical health. The campaign uses the red card’s symbolism to tackle the mental health taboo and encourage more conversations in the workplace about mental health.


The impact of this activity is measured in various ways and highlights include:

  • Absence rates and causes across colleagues and corporate customers; whilst the initial absence rates for mental illness remain high, the average absence duration is reducing due to Legal & General's intervention and support
  • Colleagues regularly contacting our network of MHFAiders to discuss concerns
  • The first ‘red card’ video generated fantastic results:
    • Reached 830,000 people on social media
    • Over 370,000 views
    • Over 7,000 likes, comments or shares
    • More than 13,000 microsite visits



BT Group plc, a global communications services company, has 82,800 UK employees, with diverse business segments including engineering, call centre operations, logistics, legal, research and development. BT’s business strategy is underpinned by a high performing, healthy organisation where people feel engaged and inspired to be the best they can be. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) Policy explicitly emphasises the critical contribution of this area to commercial success, and the HSW strategy is fully aligned emphasising promotion of healthy behaviours to avoid illness or injury arising from work or lifestyle, support to stay resilient, and advice from specialists to aid a speedy recovery.

In 2016 BT reviewed its Wellbeing framework in the context of emerging evidence and world-class thinking; key drivers of Health (particularly mental health), Security, Relationships and Purpose were identified and a gap analysis of information, products and services are undertaken. This provides the blueprint for developments over the next few years.

To track progress, a new question has been incorporated into the twice-yearly employee survey asking about overall life satisfaction. Further work is underway to integrate the principles and associated  behaviours into Management Essentials training (which focusses on the direct impact people managers have on how their teams feel about their jobs, the organisation and customers with a suite of tools, videos and training modules to help managers get things done in the right way) and Connected Leaders, BT’s Leadership Development Programme (which emphasises the crucial role of leaders in creating the right culture and role modelling the right behaviours throughout the employee lifecycle). BT’s portfolio includes a mental health ‘toolkit’ with a range of resources of escalating sophistication. This includes self-help information and training for people managers, an Employee Assistance Programme and Mental Health (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) service, as well as a team of trained counsellors providing line management consultancy and support.

Employees who may have issues with the ability to work, either currently or at some point in the future, due to health, disability or caring responsibilities can voluntarily use the confidential BT Passport developed as a joint initiative with the Trade Unions. The Passport is a simple word document completed by employees with their Line Manager and is intended to provoke discussion about balancing business and individual needs and to record the outcome of that discussion including agreed actions relating to the individual’s circumstances. The focus is firmly on what the employee can do, rather than what they can’t and in removing any barriers that might prevent them from making a full contribution at work.


Unilever make some of the UK's most well-known household brands. As part of their Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever aims to improve the health and wellbeing of a billion people around the world, and through the power of our biggest brands, raise awareness and break down the stigma attached to mental health.

Unilever UK has accelerated their Wellbeing approach over recent years, with deep insight led by internal and external data findings. A selection of their findings has led us to focus on progressing their Mental Health programme, developing employee resources and emphasising the importance of the business progressing the conversation about mental health. Key to increasing the mental health conversation and to supporting the evolving programme has been the development of a comprehensive range of line manager support tools and resources. Its online line manager ‘One Stop Shop’ is a keystone of this. It operates within seven key areas to help line managers encourage their teams to thrive. It includes Operational Excellence, Coaching and Development, Fostering Innovation, and Wellbeing – How to thrive, which includes a dedicated e-learning package around mental health. This runs alongside their holistic Wellbeing workshop, Thrive, which presents our Wellbeing and energy framework (of Physical, Mental, Emotional health and Purpose) to employees.

Embracing the many studies that have shown that line managers are one of the key influences to an employee’s success and awareness of organizational support, Unilever have endeavoured to provide managers with the tools to make this happen. Alongside e-learning and workshop packages, they have trained more than 50% of our managers within Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and built a ‘Thriving through change’ playbook. Their training and playbook offer tangible calls to action for managers to work through with their teams to support them through their wellbeing journey. Unilever felt that these items were an important investment, especially the following Business in the Community’s 2016 recommendations of Talk, Train, Take action.

Their 2017 follow-on action has been to further drive this impact and progress the conversation of mental health among colleagues, by progressing our MHFA commitment to training one in 50 of ALL employees by mid-2018.  Unilever's further ‘Take action’ includes the evolution of Wellbeing resource accessibility and presentation. They constructed a Wellbeing information resource map – for line managers to facilitate employee support, and a nationwide communication programme on #1Chat, their ambition for which is that no employee is ever more than one conversation away from support. All this activity promotes permission to and reduces the stigma of, talking about mental health. 

National Grid

National Grid is a champion of Business in the Community’s Wellbeing campaign. Over the past five years, they've seen success in mental health with a rolling programme of improvement. The Business in the Community National employee mental wellbeing survey helps us to understand and track the impacts of their programmes. National Grid's ambition is to tackle mental health-related stigma and discrimination in the workplace, equip managers to deal effectively with employee mental wellbeing, and support employees to look after their mental wellbeing and perform to their best. A dedicated Wellbeing Team supports a structure of champions, who create wellbeing strategies and plans for each business area. The strategic direction is set by a Wellbeing Steering Group made up of senior managers.

The 2016 Business in the Community Survey on Mental Wellbeing took place at a time of significant change when the Gas Distribution part of the business was being sold. The survey was promoted through  corporate channels, and by targeting their champions’ network, trade unions, and employees signed up to the Time to Change Pledge. By part sponsoring the survey, they were able to get National Grid specific feedback from this. We identified a number of specific themes from our results:

  • A significant number of respondents reported poor levels of mental health and cited work as a contributory factor
  • However, a large proportion of employees felt comfortable about telling their manager but some of those felt that more could have been done to support them
  • Managers understood that employee well-being was their responsibility but felt unconfident because of lack of training, or not having time for 1:1’s due to the pressure of targets
  • We use three national mental wellbeing days to promote our work – Time to Talk, Mental Health
  • Awareness Week & World Mental Health Day

The strategic focus for these promotions in 2017 was:

  • To continue to address the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health, and increase the uptake of staff trained in Mental Health First Aid
  • To increase manager capability to address mental health issues in the workplace, including disclosures
  • Developing new resources to support managers (mental wellbeing management pathways, wellness action plans and PEx and mental well-being guides)
  • Integrating the CIPD/HSE manager competencies for workplace stress. Our HR Cases team will also be offering training on the stress policy Addressing cultural change through the development of new wellbeing principles which will provide the cornerstone of expected wellbeing behaviours
  • Measuring through wellbeing questions in our annual employee engagement survey