Supporting Mental Health at Work
Posted 06/10/2023 : By: Kathryn Knight
In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, the importance of mental health cannot be overstated. Employees’ mental wellbeing is not only a matter of individual concern but also a huge factor in overall organisational success. This article will look at the challenges faced by organisations in relation to mental health issues in the workplace and what steps employers can take to create a healthier, more productive and inclusive work environment.
The Current Landscape
According to mental health charity Mind, one in six workers in the UK is dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress.
Work environments can have a huge impact on mental health, and equally, mental health can significantly affect performance, productivity and employee absence.
Mental health conditions cost UK companies £6.9 billion in working days lost to long-term illness in the year to August, according to new research.
The cost of employee absences of 20 days or more due to poor mental health was almost as great as all long-term time off for musculoskeletal problems, surgery and cancer combined. Those ailments cost employers a total of £7.6 billion, the survey by GoodShape, found.
Despite growing awareness there is still a stigma associated with mental health issues in many workplaces. Employees often fear discrimination or judgement if they disclose their struggles. According to the Time to Change campaign, led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, almost half of the UK employees (48%) would feel uncomfortable discussing their mental health at work.
High levels of stress and heavy workloads can lead to burnout, a state of physical and mental exhaustion. Burnout reduces productivity and can be a major factor in employee turnover.
Employees dealing with mental health issues are less productive as their focus and energy are compromised.
Lack of training
Many employers are uncertain about how to support employees facing mental health issues and managers often lack the training and experience needed to have conversations with team members who need support.
Building a Healthy Work Environment
Encourage open conversations about mental health. Mental health awareness should be promoted across the workforce. Leaders should lead by example, sharing their own experiences or struggles when appropriate.
Mental Health Resources
Employee assistance programs (EAPs), counselling, peer-to-peer support networks and mindfulness training are among some of the most common resources employers can offer employees. Make sure employees are aware of these and how they can access them.
Training and support
Provide mental health awareness training for managers and employees to equip them with the knowledge and skills to recognise signs of distress and offer appropriate support.
Managers are often the first point of contact for employees who need support. If a team member discloses an issue, it’s essential that managers are able to talk with them about their needs.
Unmanageable workloads are a key cause of burnout and work-related stress. Review job descriptions (and what’s happening in reality) to ensure that expectations are clear and realistic. Don’t wait for an appraisal to talk to employees about how they feel things are going.
Mental health problems can be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if the following apply:
- it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
- it lasts for at least a year or is expected to.
If any employee has a disability, their employer has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to support their needs. However, even where a mental health condition is not classed as a disability under the definition of the Act, its best practice to make appropriate changes to an employee’s work to support them in employment.
Please contact a member of the team if you have any questions or for more information on supporting mental health at work.
Upcoming online workshop: Managing Mental Health, Wellbeing and Resilience
Our workshop aims to give managers a better understanding of mental health in the workplace. Delegates will learn how best to support the wellbeing of staff and to manage levels of stress and resilience in themselves and their teams.
Short online workshop, 10 – 11.30am Wednesday 11 October 2023
Book online at the following address: Book Now on Eventbrite
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