Changing the conversation about health

Employers encouraged to offer yoga and meditation to help improve mental health in the workforce

Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is urging employers to introduce a raft of new measures to help improve the mental health of their workers.

Yoga and meditation sessions, more flexible working hours and better communication – via regular catch-ups – are part of a series of recommendations health chiefs have made in a new draft document that will now face consultation.

It comes after a survey in 2020, by Deloitte, found that companies lose an estimated £45billion each year because of mental health problems within the workforce.

Draft guidelines on mental health in the workplace by Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggest that yoga and mindfulness sessions could be beneficial to employees (Pixabay/Ben_Kerckx)

Guidelines in the document, which includes better training for managers on how to deal with employee welfare, are designed to help ward off a mental health crisis; depression and anxiety rates rose during lockdown as employees were forced to work from home, often in isolation.

It’s hoped the new guidelines, if passed, will help ‘create the right conditions’ to support the mental health of employees.

Online and face-to-face group sessions in yoga and meditation are among the suggestions offered by the guideline committee, which is made up of people working as healthcare professionals, mental health experts, local authorities and the general public.

The report says: “The committee recognised the importance of good relationships between managers and employees, and of employees being able to approach managers to discuss any concerns.”

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, said: “Providing managers with skills to discuss mental wellbeing improves the relationship between manager and employee so that they can identify and reduce work stressors.”

The pandemic has sparked fears of a mental health crisis. A survey by Deloitte last year found that companies lose an estimated £45billion each year because of mental health problems within the workforce (Pixabay/Peggy_Marco)

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at the charity Mind, added: “Investing in staff wellbeing has never been more important and benefits the entire workforce. 

“Training alone is not enough to protect and promote the wellbeing of staff – it should be part of a wider comprehensive package of support for staff. 

“Lots of employers – particularly smaller ones – feel they do not have resources to invest in staff wellbeing, but interventions need not be large or expensive. 

“Above all, we want to see all employers proactively creating a culture where staff of all levels can talk about their mental health and know that if they do, they’ll be met with support and understanding, rather than experiencing stigma and discrimination.”


National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Public Health England