Sean Russell

Coventry University has made a major appointment to develop a nationally-acclaimed mental health initiative into a long-term programme.

Sean Russell has moved from a role leading the WMCA’s Covid response, to become the Co-Investigator for the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP).

MHPP is a three-year partnership funded by Midlands Engine and is a collaboration of Midlands universities, local authorities and the mental health charity Mind – aimed at increasing productivity by tacking mental health in the workplace.

Sean will work on establishing the programme as a longer-term initiative beyond its current end date next June.

Sean spent 27 years in the police force rising to the rank of Superintendent and in 2011 took the lead for policing mental health in the West Midlands force.

He worked on developing regional and national pilots on mental health before being seconded to the Mental Health Commission as the Implementation Director, and then becoming head of Thrive at Work, a structured wellbeing programme that is embedded into workplaces, at the WMCA before taking up responsibility for the region’s Covid response.

He said: “MHPP is an amazing programme which is designed to tackle mental health in, and through, the workplace and thereby boost productivity and reduce the burden on the NHS.

“We have eight million people experiencing mental health issues and we believe that MHPP could form a highly effective long-term measure in reducing that number but it needs to be a programme that is well and truly embedded.

“We want the work currently being carried out to have a legacy, and I would love to see a plan to extend it to 2031 and that is what I will be working for.”

Professor Guy Daly, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) and a member of the WMCA Wellbeing Board, said Russell’s appointment could prove key in helping establish MHPP in the long term.

He said: “Sean was a pioneer in the field of mental health when he worked in the police force and has been instrumental in ensuring mental wellbeing has been a cornerstone of policy in the region.

“We believe that MHPP has real merit tackling what is a major health problem and, at the same time, help the productivity of companies across the region.”