Today is World Mental Health Day 2017, and this year one of the main focusses will be mental health in the workplace. As with previous years the day seeks to raise awareness of what is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide; poor mental health.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: "Mental health is often the area least discussed when we talk about general health or NHS issues – this has to change. It is a sad fact that almost 1 in 4 of cases that come through my office have an aspect of mental ill health. Locally NELFT is working hard to address these issues but days like today are of vital importance.

"One of the best ways of tackling stigma and discrimination is breaking down barriers and talking about our problems. I commend the work being done by local charities such as Havering Mind and Carers of Barking and Dagenham, mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent and these organisations are making a real difference."

The most common problem caused by poor mental health worldwide is depression, and the Mental Health Foundation along with other leading charitable organisations such as Time to Change provide a number of free resources to help people better understand it's effects. The resources also outline how to support someone living with depression.

Time To Change: Six Degrees of Being in a Colleagues Corner!

Time To Change: #InYourCorner

A serious concern that is being highlighted this year is ‘presenteeism', which is the term used to describe employees that continue to work whilst suffering a mental health issue because they are afraid to take time off. This can be attributed to a number of factors which include fear of stigma and discrimination.

Statistics highlight that poor mental health is now responsible for more than 70 million lost working days each year. It's important for employers to recognise that initiatives to promote mental health and wellbeing not only improve the health of their work force but also increases their output. When staff feel well-cared-for and happy at work, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and loyal.

The Mental Health Foundation have published a number of guides regarding mental health in the workplace which can be found here:

MHF: Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

MHF: Mental Health as a Workplace Asset

This year across Dagenham and Rainham there have been many events for residents to attend, helping to raise awareness of increasing mental health issues in the local area. In Barking and Dagenham THRIVE LDN held a workshop aimed at helping to create a ‘happy, healthy and productive workforce'. The Carers of Barking and Dagenham also held an event in Barking Learning Centre, and in Rainham NELFT the NHS trust that coordinates mental health care for the constituency held an event.

Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham added: "Labour are not shying away from this issue, earlier this year the Labour Campaign for Mental Health held its first conference; and where the government are failing to provide properly funded services, Labour have recently pledged to invest in mental health and social care on an unparalleled scale.

"There are many ways for people to get involved, helping to improve their own or others mental health, and I encourage everyone to have a look at some of the resources available – and have at least one conversation today."