We all have mental health. You, me - everybody. It's just that some are more conscious of it than others. 

Mental health problems are the number one reason employees take sick days in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sanctus cofounders George Bettany (left) and James Routledge (right) © Sanctus

Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that a growing number of tech startups are starting to cotton on to the importance of supporting good mental health among their staff.

A new venture called Sanctus has been helping lead the charge by getting 25 companies to sign the 'mental health pledge' for employers.

The text reads: "We pledge to create an open environment where mental health is supported, and people can bring their full selves to work."

"If you broke your leg, you wouldn't leave your crutches outside the office door. Why should you be expected to do that for your mental health?" asks Hannah Keal, head of people at Goodlord, a lettings transaction platform and one of the signatories of the pledge.

Sanctus coaches, or therapists, visit Sanctus' 25 clients on regular basis, and can be booked for one-to-one slots with employees.

Sanctus founder James Routledge likes to draw comparisons between physical and mental fitness and says it is his "big mission to put the world's first mental health gym on the high street".

"For me, it's about building a strong and inclusive work culture where people can be themselves at work," says Harry Richardson, HR lead at ID verification startup Onfido.

"We all have ups and downs in life, we go to work and we can't pretend we're someone else," he adds. "If you're having a tough time and have to hide it, that would be a terrible thing."

The companies that provide Sanctus coaching to their staff say it is leading to fewer sick days and even encouraging people to apply to work with them.

It could be tempting to dismiss Sanctus sessions as a fluffy perk that trivialises the issues faced by those with serious mental health conditions.

It is widely accepted that the UK is in the midst of a mental health crisis. While a quarter of all people across the country will be impacted by mental health at some stage in their lives, NHS bosses have warned that Trusts are direly under-resourced and, in turn, there are long waiting times for patients to be seen.

In fact, 80 percent of NHS Trust bosses are concerned that they won’t have the resources to deliver high-quality mental health care quickly to the growing numbers of people who desperately need it. 

If the pledge encourages companies to have a more enlightened stance on the importance of mental health for their employees, it can surely only be a good thing.

"Obviously there needs to be more support for people with diagnosable mental illness," Routledge says. "But we don't want to ostracise people without mental illnesses or make them feel they aren't bringing enough. Everyone has mental health."

Richardson believes this sort of support for employees will become standard procedure for companies within the coming years.

"Within society we're seeing a big change. There are lots of influential people now talking about mental health from Stormzy to Prince Harry. Organisations often slightly lag behind that, but companies, especially in tech, are putting a priority on it," he says.

It makes sense from a business standpoint of helping to reduce days off work, as well as just being the "right thing to do," Richardson adds.

Samantha Perry is head of people at another pledge signatory, startup car marketplace CarWow. She underscores just how grave the matter could be left unchecked: "We are 70 percent male at the moment and suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 25 to 40. Our average age is 27.

"We never want to look back and wonder what more we could have done."

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