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CIPD and solicitors from Willans’ employment law team co-organised a panel of experts to discuss mental health in the workplace.

The event took place at the University of Gloucestershire Park Campus in Cheltenham last week as the nation was asked to recognise mental illness via the World Mental Health Day (10 October).

The panel consisted of Simon Wall of CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal Development), Dr Charlie Vivian of Icarus Health Solutions, Laura Davis of Willans’, Bev Jones from Awaken and Nick Gazzard of the Hollie Gazzard Trust. They were asked to engage the room and discuss a proactive approach to mental health from the position of an employer and employee, as well as from the industry, health and legal perspectives.

Nick Gazzard, whose daughter Hollie was fatally stabbed at work in 2014 and while in an abusive relationship used the talk to share thoughts and words from a programme he is rolling out across the region called ‘working without fear’, about the effects that domestic abuse and stalking has on both the employer and the employee in the workplace.

Abuse can lead to underperformance, presenteeism and the victim taking days off work and being late for work. Domestic and work lives are so entwined, the abuse affects their concentration and as such, it is not good for them and it is not good for the company. Abuse is not selective in who it happens to and what businesses it affects, it happens wherever,” Nick said.

“Employers are fearful of the subject and turn away from it because they do not know what to do. There is a stigma to it, those that are being abused worry that they will lose their job if their employer knows what is going on in their personal life. A fear of disclosure exists. Employers need to enlist the support of external specialists to help train line managers that is severely lacking. Employers need to be able to recognise the signs that someone is being abused, intervene early and provide the necessary support and signposting to help the employee.”

For more information please visit the website www.holliegazzard.org

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