Delivering mental health support to local businesses

The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP), fully funded by the Midlands Engine Partnership, aims to reduce mental health related absence, presenteeism, and the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace. 

MHPP offers businesses support including Thrive at Work Accreditation, Mental Health at Work Commitment, wellbeing initiatives including ‘Every Mind Matters’, ‘Mental Health First Aid’ and ‘This is Me’, plus research interventions to support employers in nurturing a happier, healthier workforce.   

MHPP brings together expert partners including the University of Derby, pilot lead in the D2N2 region, Coventry University and Universities of Warwick, Lincoln, Birmingham, Loughborough, and Nottingham, in partnership with MIND and West Midlands Combined Authority.  

Over 600 organisations are working on one or more of the above work streams and our ‘Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat’ campaign has, to date, been viewed by over three million individuals. We’ve been successful in breaking down barriers across a diverse range of business sectors, including construction and engineering, education, retail, hospitality, and healthcare. 

Pioneering in its approach to knowledge exchange across Higher Education and the business community, the project has delivered research pilots focusing on sleep, returning to work, and the use of mentors and management support, inviting businesses to trial support tools and interventions. Mental health workshops have also been delivered to Business Management and Human Resources students at universities and colleges, where the knowledge and insights derived from Derby’s research into compassionate communication and nature connectedness have been applied to support wellbeing and productivity.   


The most significant impact has been businesses’ understanding of proactivity in supporting positive mental health and wellbeing and increasing the confidence of managers. The advent of focus groups has informed Health and Wellbeing strategies within business communities, the introduction of Wellbeing Champions and of Wellness Action Plans to support conversations between managers and staff. 

A key feature of the programme was to address attitudinal change towards mental health, targeting those at DCEO and director level to lead by example and drive an open and positive culture. This was deemed critical in more traditionally male-dominated industries, such as at local construction company GF Tomlinson and Iconsys Engineering in Telford. 

This initiative came to the fore during the pandemic, where new triggers for mental health such as loneliness, isolation, connectivity, and the ever-increasing cost of living were highlighted. MHPP provides managers and senior leaders with the awareness, understanding and resources to support better their workforce who may be encountering this impact. MHPP supports the Investment Priorities and Levelling Up missions around wellbeing and productivity and has shown to be invaluable in improving the health and wellbeing of the workforce in our region.  

This pan-sector initiative reaches into every corner of business practice across all industrial sectors and institutions, irrespective of size, maturity, and location. Health and wellbeing, a key priority at work for all employees, is the very foundation of a sustainable and prosperous business where people are recognised as its most valuable asset.