Charity wants to address looming mental health crisis in the workplace

The Illuminate charity wants businesses to prioritise mental health in the workplace. Picture: ILLUM

The Illuminate charity wants businesses to prioritise mental health in the workplace. Picture: ILLUMINATE. - Credit: Archant

A Cambridgeshire-based mental health charity is calling on businesses to prioritise support for mental health in the workplace.

Illuminate has launched a range of services to support the growing number of employers concerned about the impact Covid-19 has had on their employee’s mental health.

“We are responding to what is widely being seen as a potential mental health crisis at work,’ said Maria Varallo, Illuminate’s co-founder.

Recent research by the charity Mind, found that 35 per cent of employees describe their mental health as either “poor” or “very poor”, and the prospect of returning to work was causing real anxiety. The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) also found that 43 per cent of employees said their general mental health has worsened since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to 52 per cent for those with an existing mental health issue.

At the same time, almost nine in 10 employers are worried about the impact the pandemic has had on employee mental health, with a growing commitment to addressing the challenge from companies including Barclays, Lloyds, Santander and E-on.

Half of managers in the UK also believe their teams may be at an increased risk of burnout following a change in working patterns and behaviours caused by the global pandemic.

“We are the only Cambridgeshire charity using coaching and training to support employees to overcome the challenges of poor mental health and build resilience,” says Maria.

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“As well as responding to the growing need by moving our existing specialist coaching and training online we are also now offering facilitation for teams of mental health first aid trained staff – ensuring they build on their training to develop the best skills to support colleagues who are struggling with their mental health right now.”

Illuminate provides specialist mental health coaching for individual employees struggling with issues such as anxiety and stress, helping them build their resilience and preventing greater problems such as burnout. Coaching is also provided for managers and leaders, ensuring they have the right skills and tools to best support good mental health across their teams.


The charity’s training includes Mental Health First Aid, also on-line sessions to reduce stigma in the workplace which are led by trainers with personal experience of poor mental health who come from a variety of backgrounds – providing practical insights and information on raising awareness of mental health in the workplace.

“We are here to support our local businesses of whatever size,’ Maria says.

“At the same time, as supporting their people, by choosing us as a local charity, rather than a commercial partner, the organisations we work with support us to do more in our community - all the profits generated go straight into achieving our mission to improve mental health and reduce stigma across Cambridgeshire.”