The Health at Work Advice Line Wales, part of the Welsh Government’s Healthy Working Wales programme, is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, in partnership with the Welsh Government.
According to Lindsay Foyster, director of Mind Cymru, the advice line is fulfilling an important role in the current economic climate.
“Mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress, affect one in six British workers each year,” explained Lindsay Foyster. “Problems can affect anyone in any industry, and we know many people are struggling at work due to increased pressures resulting from the economic downturn.
“The Health at Work Advice Line Wales is an easy-to-access way in which employers and employees can get support, to help them to stay well and in work. The more we can get people talking about mental health, at work, at home and in communities, the better chance we have to challenge the stigma and discrimination around mental health problems."
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths AM added,
“A happy, healthy and productive workforce contributes to wider efforts to improve the health of our working-age population. I would encourage employers and employees to call the Health at Work line if they need advice.”
There are links between mental health and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and the advice line also offers support in this area. Early reporting of symptoms is important, in order to speed up treatment and rehabilitation.
Philippa Ford, Policy Officer for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in Wales, said,
“In our Move for Health campaign this year we focussed on mental health in relation to keeping physically healthy. Too much pressure can create stress, and sustained exposure to stress is linked to mental health conditions and physical problems.
“Physiotherapists know that back and neck muscles are particularly sensitive to the effects of stress, and can cause pain and sometimes headaches too. All this can prevent us doing our jobs effectively, so getting support and treatment for musculoskeletal problems is very important.”
Monmouthshire Housing achieved the Welsh Government’s Gold Corporate Health Standard earlier this year, in recognition of its work to protect and improve the health and well-being of its workforce.
Human resources manager, Karen Williams, said:
“We are aware that the pressures of every-day life can creep up on us at any time, and symptoms can show in various forms, including MSDs.
“Our systems highlight this to our managers, requiring them to carry out stress risk assessments. We provide awareness-raising sessions for staff on health issues including mental health, posture and back pain and work-life balance. We also believe in making work ‘fun’, and have held various events including a ‘Summer Day’ to celebrate our wet summer with sports day activities.”