Tag Archives: should

What you should say to somebody who has miscarried – and what you shouldn’t | Janet Murray

“At least you know you can get pregnant,” said my doctor friend when I told her I’d had a miscarriage, 12 weeks into my first pregnancy, and following a painful struggle with infertility. “There was probably something wrong with the baby,” said one relative. “Just think of all the fun you’ll have trying again,” said another.

After my second miscarriage – a rare form of ectopic pregnancy – the focus was on the fact I was already a mother. “At least you’ve already got a child,” well-meaning friends told me, as did the surgeon who delivered the news that the pregnancy – and subsequent surgery – had left me infertile.

Not only did these insensitive comments hurt. They also made me feel diminished, as if I had no right grieving for a baby that never existed. As if I were greedy to want another child when I already had one.

As many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage so you would think we’d be better at talking to women who have lost a baby. But if you’ve experienced miscarriage – or are close to someone who has – you’ll know how clumsy people can be with their words.

Perhaps it’s because it can be uncomfortable discussing “female” things such as bleeding and cramps. Or maybe it’s because people don’t associate early miscarriage (generally defined as a loss that occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy) with a “real” baby. Whatever the reason, when you experience miscarriage you quickly discover that even the nicest people can say the most insensitive things.

I had a miscarriage. Why can’t we talk about losing a baby?

Almost every woman I know who has experienced miscarriage has a story about something inappropriate someone said following her loss.

After losing twins, one friend was told it was for the best “as she wouldn’t have been able to cope anyway”. Another endured speculation about whether her migraines were to blame, as “stress [caused by migraines] can kill babies in the womb”. “At least it was nice and early” offered little comfort to the colleague who lost babies six and seven weeks into her pregnancies.

But while words can wound, saying nothing can be just as bad.

I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness. One minute I was imagining holding my baby in my arms, reading her a bedtime story or helping her take her first steps. The next I was in this dark, shadowy place, where I couldn’t see anything to live for. I thought I would never be able to stop crying. The worst thing was the crushing loneliness: the phone stayed silent – most people were too afraid to call.


I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness

When a friend or loved one loses a baby, the worst thing you can do is stay away. Picking up the phone or calling round to their home – even when you don’t know what to say – takes guts, but is better than doing nothing at all. Offering to cook, babysit, run errands – or any other practical help – can be enough to show you care.

Acknowledge the loss by asking when the baby was due to be born. If she doesn’t want to share she’ll say so. But steer clear of meaningless platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason” or “you can try again” (she can’t – that baby is gone for ever – and that was the baby she wanted). Anything that starts with “at least” will sound like you’re trying to minimise the loss – so don’t go there.

Do remember that everyone experiences grief and loss differently. I left a party in tears last year after someone made a point of telling me they’d miscarried twins and it hadn’t really bothered them. The conversation that followed was so painful – even 10 years after my last miscarriage – it took my breath away. So you had a miscarriage yourself and got over it in a few days. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean everyone else should do.

In fact a 2011 study found that the depression and anxiety experienced by many women after a miscarriage can continue for years, even after the birth of a healthy child.

If you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant yourself you can’t avoid the subject for ever. But a sensitive phone call (rather than a scan picture on a Facebook message – yep, that happened to me) is probably a better bet.

Remember, also, that miscarriage hurts dads too, but they are often so busy looking after their partner that their grief goes unacknowledged. A simple hug or “how are you doing?” can go a long way.

I was saved by a wise friend who didn’t try to offer explanations, “fix” things or tell me about her friend/sister/aunt who miscarried umpteen times but went on to have a healthy baby. Who was brave enough to turn up on my doorstep with a hug and box of chocolates and just listen. Who understood that “I’m sorry” was all I needed to hear. That alone was priceless.

Janet Murray is a writer, speaker and fundraiser for miscarriage awareness. She is running the 2018 London Marathon raise money for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

  • Comments on this thread are will be pre-moderated.

What you should say to somebody who has miscarried – and what you shouldn’t | Janet Murray

“At least you know you can get pregnant,” said my doctor friend when I told her I’d had a miscarriage, 12 weeks into my first pregnancy, and following a painful struggle with infertility. “There was probably something wrong with the baby,” said one relative. “Just think of all the fun you’ll have trying again,” said another.

After my second miscarriage – a rare form of ectopic pregnancy – the focus was on the fact I was already a mother. “At least you’ve already got a child,” well-meaning friends told me, as did the surgeon who delivered the news that the pregnancy – and subsequent surgery – had left me infertile.

Not only did these insensitive comments hurt. They also made me feel diminished, as if I had no right grieving for a baby that never existed. As if I were greedy to want another child when I already had one.

As many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage so you would think we’d be better at talking to women who have lost a baby. But if you’ve experienced miscarriage – or are close to someone who has – you’ll know how clumsy people can be with their words.

Perhaps it’s because it can be uncomfortable discussing “female” things such as bleeding and cramps. Or maybe it’s because people don’t associate early miscarriage (generally defined as a loss that occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy) with a “real” baby. Whatever the reason, when you experience miscarriage you quickly discover that even the nicest people can say the most insensitive things.

I had a miscarriage. Why can’t we talk about losing a baby?

Almost every woman I know who has experienced miscarriage has a story about something inappropriate someone said following her loss.

After losing twins, one friend was told it was for the best “as she wouldn’t have been able to cope anyway”. Another endured speculation about whether her migraines were to blame, as “stress [caused by migraines] can kill babies in the womb”. “At least it was nice and early” offered little comfort to the colleague who lost babies six and seven weeks into her pregnancies.

But while words can wound, saying nothing can be just as bad.

I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness. One minute I was imagining holding my baby in my arms, reading her a bedtime story or helping her take her first steps. The next I was in this dark, shadowy place, where I couldn’t see anything to live for. I thought I would never be able to stop crying. The worst thing was the crushing loneliness: the phone stayed silent – most people were too afraid to call.


I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness

When a friend or loved one loses a baby, the worst thing you can do is stay away. Picking up the phone or calling round to their home – even when you don’t know what to say – takes guts, but is better than doing nothing at all. Offering to cook, babysit, run errands – or any other practical help – can be enough to show you care.

Acknowledge the loss by asking when the baby was due to be born. If she doesn’t want to share she’ll say so. But steer clear of meaningless platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason” or “you can try again” (she can’t – that baby is gone for ever – and that was the baby she wanted). Anything that starts with “at least” will sound like you’re trying to minimise the loss – so don’t go there.

Do remember that everyone experiences grief and loss differently. I left a party in tears last year after someone made a point of telling me they’d miscarried twins and it hadn’t really bothered them. The conversation that followed was so painful – even 10 years after my last miscarriage – it took my breath away. So you had a miscarriage yourself and got over it in a few days. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean everyone else should do.

In fact a 2011 study found that the depression and anxiety experienced by many women after a miscarriage can continue for years, even after the birth of a healthy child.

If you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant yourself you can’t avoid the subject for ever. But a sensitive phone call (rather than a scan picture on a Facebook message – yep, that happened to me) is probably a better bet.

Remember, also, that miscarriage hurts dads too, but they are often so busy looking after their partner that their grief goes unacknowledged. A simple hug or “how are you doing?” can go a long way.

I was saved by a wise friend who didn’t try to offer explanations, “fix” things or tell me about her friend/sister/aunt who miscarried umpteen times but went on to have a healthy baby. Who was brave enough to turn up on my doorstep with a hug and box of chocolates and just listen. Who understood that “I’m sorry” was all I needed to hear. That alone was priceless.

Janet Murray is a writer, speaker and fundraiser for miscarriage awareness. She is running the 2018 London Marathon raise money for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

  • Comments on this thread are will be pre-moderated.

What you should say to somebody who has miscarried – and what you shouldn’t | Janet Murray

“At least you know you can get pregnant,” said my doctor friend when I told her I’d had a miscarriage, 12 weeks into my first pregnancy, and following a painful struggle with infertility. “There was probably something wrong with the baby,” said one relative. “Just think of all the fun you’ll have trying again,” said another.

After my second miscarriage – a rare form of ectopic pregnancy – the focus was on the fact I was already a mother. “At least you’ve already got a child,” well-meaning friends told me, as did the surgeon who delivered the news that the pregnancy – and subsequent surgery – had left me infertile.

Not only did these insensitive comments hurt. They also made me feel diminished, as if I had no right grieving for a baby that never existed. As if I were greedy to want another child when I already had one.

As many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage so you would think we’d be better at talking to women who have lost a baby. But if you’ve experienced miscarriage – or are close to someone who has – you’ll know how clumsy people can be with their words.

Perhaps it’s because it can be uncomfortable discussing “female” things such as bleeding and cramps. Or maybe it’s because people don’t associate early miscarriage (generally defined as a loss that occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy) with a “real” baby. Whatever the reason, when you experience miscarriage you quickly discover that even the nicest people can say the most insensitive things.

I had a miscarriage. Why can’t we talk about losing a baby?

Almost every woman I know who has experienced miscarriage has a story about something inappropriate someone said following her loss.

After losing twins, one friend was told it was for the best “as she wouldn’t have been able to cope anyway”. Another endured speculation about whether her migraines were to blame, as “stress [caused by migraines] can kill babies in the womb”. “At least it was nice and early” offered little comfort to the colleague who lost babies six and seven weeks into her pregnancies.

But while words can wound, saying nothing can be just as bad.

I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness. One minute I was imagining holding my baby in my arms, reading her a bedtime story or helping her take her first steps. The next I was in this dark, shadowy place, where I couldn’t see anything to live for. I thought I would never be able to stop crying. The worst thing was the crushing loneliness: the phone stayed silent – most people were too afraid to call.


I’m generally a positive person but both times I miscarried, I experienced extreme hopelessness

When a friend or loved one loses a baby, the worst thing you can do is stay away. Picking up the phone or calling round to their home – even when you don’t know what to say – takes guts, but is better than doing nothing at all. Offering to cook, babysit, run errands – or any other practical help – can be enough to show you care.

Acknowledge the loss by asking when the baby was due to be born. If she doesn’t want to share she’ll say so. But steer clear of meaningless platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason” or “you can try again” (she can’t – that baby is gone for ever – and that was the baby she wanted). Anything that starts with “at least” will sound like you’re trying to minimise the loss – so don’t go there.

Do remember that everyone experiences grief and loss differently. I left a party in tears last year after someone made a point of telling me they’d miscarried twins and it hadn’t really bothered them. The conversation that followed was so painful – even 10 years after my last miscarriage – it took my breath away. So you had a miscarriage yourself and got over it in a few days. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean everyone else should do.

In fact a 2011 study found that the depression and anxiety experienced by many women after a miscarriage can continue for years, even after the birth of a healthy child.

If you’ve recently found out you’re pregnant yourself you can’t avoid the subject for ever. But a sensitive phone call (rather than a scan picture on a Facebook message – yep, that happened to me) is probably a better bet.

Remember, also, that miscarriage hurts dads too, but they are often so busy looking after their partner that their grief goes unacknowledged. A simple hug or “how are you doing?” can go a long way.

I was saved by a wise friend who didn’t try to offer explanations, “fix” things or tell me about her friend/sister/aunt who miscarried umpteen times but went on to have a healthy baby. Who was brave enough to turn up on my doorstep with a hug and box of chocolates and just listen. Who understood that “I’m sorry” was all I needed to hear. That alone was priceless.

Janet Murray is a writer, speaker and fundraiser for miscarriage awareness. She is running the 2018 London Marathon raise money for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

  • Comments on this thread are will be pre-moderated.

How should the government overhaul mental health laws?

The promise to overhaul the Mental Health Act 1983 is one of the few Conservative party manifesto pledges to survive the election. The decision to reform the act, which appeared in the Queen’s speech in June, means the government is committed to taking steps to overhaul the legislation in the next 12 months.

The 1983 act, which outlines how people can be involuntarily detained and treated in hospital for mental health issues, was amended in 2007. This included introducing the right to an independent advocate while in hospital; and the controversial community treatment orders that were criticised for failing to safeguard patients’ rights.

However, 30 years on, the legislation is regarded as outdated and in need of reform. Today, there is greater public awareness about mental health, more demands that the issue has equal parity with physical health, and increasing concerns about the numbers detained in secure care who might instead be treated in local, community-based services.

Theresa May acknowledged the inadequacies of the UK’s mental health system in her first speech as prime minister in July last year: “If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.”

Here, mental health campaigners, those who work in the sector and patients explain what they want to see in a new act.

‘Embedding people’s experiences in any new legislation will ensure that the best options are put in place’

Ian Callaghan
Ian Callaghan

The act should support people when they are most unwell by ensuring their care and treatment is timely, and helping them progress in their recovery.

Currently someone detained under the act can’t be confident that their rights, any advance wishes or their dignity will be respected – or even that they will be listened to.

The best place to start will be with people who are, or have been, detained under the act – such as myself. Embedding people’s experiences in any new legislation will ensure that the person is at the centre of their care, and that the best options are put in place at every step of someone’s treatment and recovery journey.

Ian Callaghan, mental health campaigner, working with charity Rethink Mental Illness

‘Additional and more varied community services must be made available, and GPs must have easier access to them’

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard


Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard

Cases of patients presenting with mental health conditions have risen significantly over the past few years across the NHS, especially in general practice. While this might sound alarming, it could also indicate that there is better identification and diagnosis of mental health conditions and that the stigma society attaches to mental health is reducing, so more people are seeking medical assistance. These would be positive steps as we strive for parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

Once diagnosed, many patients struggle to get the most appropriate treatment because there is a severe lack of specialist community mental health services. Additional and more varied community services must be made available, and GPs must have easier, quicker access to them. NHS England’s GP Forward View pledges that every GP practice will have access to a mental health therapist – this needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs

‘The best way to prevent someone being detained is to prevent them from falling into a crisis in the first place’

Prof Wendy Burn
Prof Wendy Burn

It is imperative that changes to the law are considered carefully and that the voice of patients, carers and medical professionals are listened to. The government is right to look at why detentions under the act have risen and why some ethnic groups are detained more often than others.

They must remember that the best way to prevent someone being detained is to prevent them from falling into a crisis in the first place; to understand that poverty, poor housing and poor physical health impact on a person’s wellbeing and psyche. With many services struggling to keep up with demand it can be hard to provide the early intervention needed to prevent people becoming seriously ill.

Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

‘Current legislation is outdated and not in line with the principles of modern healthcare’

Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer

Being detained under the act is one of the most serious things that can happen to a person when it comes to their mental health. The current legislation is outdated and not in line with the principles of modern healthcare. In the past 10 years in England we’ve seen a 47% rise in the act being used to detain people. This demonstrates that it fails to support people when they are acutely unwell.

Any new legislation needs to ensure that people with mental health problems have more involvement in decisions about their care.

Overhauling the act is a mammoth task and needs to be done in full consultation with people with lived experience. Changes to legislation need to coincide with the delivery of the ambitious plan to transform mental health services over the next five years.

Paul Farmer, chief executive, mental health charity Mind

‘Mental health should not be a game of political one-upmanship’

Kevin Betts
Kevin Betts

I’m yet to be convinced that what was in the Queen’s speech will go far enough to meet Theresa May’s promise of mental health reform. I’ve spent the last 14 years, since my dad’s suicide in 2003, trying to rationalise successive governments’ cuts to mental health provision and disingenuous nods to change being needed.

Mental health should not be a game of political one-upmanship. Consistency is vital to those in treatment, other service users and those who care for them. There is no outright [government] majority, which should encourage all parties to provide a universally approved approach.

I want a commitment that goes beyond treatment and towards destigmatisation, requiring preventative measures in educational, workplace and public settings. Early interventions can help provide positive experiences of mental health for society and take away the negative perceptions of someone with mental health issues being unhinged or untrustworthy and volatile.

Kevin Betts, mental health campaigner

‘Investing money to increase treatment options, staffing levels and mental health promotion – starting in schools – will help’

Lol Butterfield


Lol Butterfield

Mental health legislation has broadly resulted in increased rights and autonomy for patients – yet we still have a long way to go. New legislation must reflect modern day thinking around equality and treating everyone uniquely. Governments have always promised investment in mental health provision, but – with the exception of increased spending on ‘talking therapies’ – I’ve yet to see this. Staff are stressed and constrained by endless bureaucracy that undermines meaningful face-to‑face interventions.

Investing money to increase treatment options, staffing levels and mental health promotion – starting in schools – will help put mental health on par with physical health provision. The new act must continue to put the patient at the centre, be as unrestrictive as possible and reflect the importance of eradicating stigma.

Lol Butterfield, mental health anti‑stigma campaigner and registered mental health nurse

‘I would like mental health to be treated the same way as physical health’

Kay Ska


Kay Ska

In the new act I would like mental health to be treated the same way as physical health. So if it’s OK to take days off sick due to being physically ill, it shouldn’t be looked at any differently if someone needs to take time off work because of their mental health. If my leg was broken, I would have to see a doctor straightaway; things would be done immediately to get me better. But apparently not being able to leave the house due to mental health issues doesn’t seem as important. I also think that nobody should be turned down or have to wait for over three months to receive any mental health treatment.

Kay Ska, mental health blogger and campaigner

‘Having the right number of local inpatient beds is important, but the problem is about more than beds’

Mike Hunter


Dr Mike Hunter Photograph: handout

A major challenge for mental health services is to end the practice of sending people miles and miles away from their own homes to receive inpatient treatment. This often occurs in relation to acute episodes of care, but is also a problem for longer-term care, in so-called locked rehabilitation hospitals. Social inclusion is a crucial part of recovery in mental health and isolation from family, friends and communities has a negative impact on care and recovery.

Having the right number of local inpatient beds is important, but the problem is about more than beds – it’s how the whole system works in an integrated way to provide the best possible care, close to people’s homes. The only way to achieve this will be to work with the people who use the services, to create better services that genuinely meet their needs.

Dr Mike Hunter, consultant psychiatrist and medical director Sheffield health and social care NHS foundation trust

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views.

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Hollywood should call out lying politicians. Jimmy Kimmel shows how | Arwa Mahdawi

Hold the front page: in today’s breaking news, it would appear that politicians are liars. We’ve got late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to thank for this shocking revelation. Kimmel opened up Tuesday’s show by calling out Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy for lying to him about his plans to remove healthcare for millions of Americans.

In May, “after my son had open heart surgery, which was something I spoke about on the air [Cassidy] was on my show and he wasn’t very honest,” Kimmel said. “He said he would only support a healthcare bill that made sure a child like mine would get the health coverage he needs, no matter how much money his parents make.”

Just a few months later Cassidy went on to vote yes on the Senate’s failed July bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now, alongside Lindsay Graham, Cassidy is pushing yet another bill to repeal Obamacare and take healthcare away from the Americans who need it the most.

According to an analysis by the think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities the Cassidy-Graham bill would cause millions of people to lose coverage, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and deeply cut Medicaid. Basically, everything Cassidy said he wouldn’t do.

That Kimmel has so publicly called Cassidy out as a liar is commendable. So is the fact that Kimmel is turning himself into Hollywood’s moral voice on healthcare.

But it’s also worth asking why on earth Kimmel believed Cassidy in the first place. No one goes on a late-night TV show to tell America that they think babies from poor families deserve to die.

You go on late-night TV to smile and wave and say things that make people think, hey, that’s a guy I’d like to have a beer with. And then you go back to your constituency and promptly renege on all your promises. Surely that’s the way that politics has worked for thousands of years?

Not to mention, expecting anyone connected with the Trump administration to have a shred of moral integrity in their body is, I think we can agree by now, borderline delusional.

But that’s the problem, you see: when it comes to giving the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt, a lot of America does appear to be borderline delusional. It started as soon as the election results came in, with a resounding chorus of columnists insisting ‘we should at least just give Trump a chance!’

This was followed by various iterations of: ‘it’s OK, Ivanka will save us’; ‘it’s OK, the Republican party will come to its senses and save us’; ‘it’s OK, the checks and balances built into the American democratic system will save us.’

Again and again, the media has given the Trump administration and the Republican party the benefit of the doubt. And they’ve continued to give them the benefit of the doubt long past the point that any doubt was removed that they didn’t deserve it.

Worse still, America has made it pretty clear that lying isn’t such a big deal after all. In fact, if you do it with enough gusto (and you’re a white man) it can help you build your personal brand!

On Sunday Sean Spicer – the guy who trashed the press, the guy who insisted that Hitler hadn’t used chemical weapons on his own people, the guy who lied again and again to America – made an appearance at the Emmy’s, invited there by Stephen Colbert.

“This will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period — both in person and around the world,” Spicer told the crowd; a joke which riffed on his infamous assertion that the audience for Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history.

Just like that, Spicer’s reprehensible history of deceit as the White House press secretary was sanitized and turned into a punchline. And Spicer, a man no self-respecting person would want to be in a same room with, was canoodled by celebrities for the rest of the night.

Celebrities are the unofficial legislators of America; the extent to which they control public opinion. It doesn’t matter if you’re just having a bit of fun, when you have an enormous platform, every little thing you do sends a message.

Let’s hope that Kimmel’s comments about Cassidy send a message to his Hollywood peers that politicians lying is never funny.

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”