Talk For Change estimates that each of the borough’s 172,400 working age population is off work for a total seven days each year, based on CBI figures of 2.8 days absence and 4.2 days ‘presenteeism’ – the practice of coming to work suffering from mental health issues resulting in lack of productivity.
Talk For Change is a new self-referral project that can help if performance might be suffering due to issues such as anxiety, stress, panic or depression.
The programme provides workshops, online support and face-to-face talking therapies to help sufferers to overcome their mental health issues.
Programme manager Carline Holman said: “Reduced productivity in the workplace due to mental-health issues is an enormous problem for a growing economy such as Milton Keynes, and with almost six in ten people in our community currently suffering, it is a problem employers need to address.”
Research shows that there remains a stigma around mental health issues, partly because the physical symptoms are not always as apparent as other illnesses.
Fellow programme manager Jon Olsen, who spoke at the February meeting of networking group the Midsummer Breakfast Club, said: “Talk For Change can help people in Milton Keynes who have previously ‘suffered in silence’. There are new solutions available.
"We have a self-referral website where anyone registered with a Milton Keynes GP, can answer a few questions about how they are feeling and get a call back within 48 working hours. They do not even need to visit their GP.”
The Talk For Change team’s experience shows that mental health issues can hit across any sector of Milton Keynes business.
Mr Olsen said: “The pressure of life – home, as well as work – can lead to a change in our mood, a loss of appetite or an increase in negative thoughts. We all know someone experiencing these emotions and the best advice is to seek help.”
For more information, visit www.talkforchangemk.org.uk