Mental Health affects us all. Both in our personal and professional lives. The statistics speak for themselves. One adult in six had a common mental disorder. Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis. 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
Not only this mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one-fifth of days lost from work in Britain. (Source: Mental Health Foundation)
This is not something that can be ignored and as employers, we have a legal, commercial and moral obligation to help our colleagues and employees.
Some (but not all) mental illnesses will be classified under the Equality Act meaning you may need to make reasonable adjustments in working conditions
1 in 10 people have quit a job due to stress and 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form or mental health problem (Source: Dept of Health)
Difficult to measure your moral obligation, but business leaders can take the ‘lead’ on mental health awareness and the effects can extend outside your business.
Beyond being the ethical thing to do, an employer who actively cares for the emotional, physical and social wellbeing of their workers can also expect tangible business benefits…
failure to appropriately support employees could cost businesses as much as £42 billion per year, with a cost to the entire economy amounting to £99 billion in lost output.
Paul Devoy, CEO, Investors In People
The Extent of the Problem
80% of people have experienced stress at work
54% of people have said that stress at work has affected their home life
40% of people would trust their manager with a mental health concern
36% of people believe their workplace supports mental wellbeing.
Of the 80% of people who have experience stress at work 40% said it was due to workload, 21% to poor management and 12% to challenging targets. (Source: Investors In People)
5 Practical Tips
Have a flexible plan in place
Think about what you can offer to reduce stress, increase flexibility or to help support your team:
- Flexible working hours and/or days
- Time off for mental wellbeing
- Allowances for gym memberships or other wellbeing activities
- Team activities that encourage open dialogue
Be aware of the warning signs
- Panic Attacks or breathing difficulties
- Decrease in activity
- Excessive tiredness
- Forgetfulness or memory loss
- Irritability or anger
- Visible anxiety
- Poor or rash decision making
- Increased absenteeism
- Significant change in eating habits
Train the right people
Training comes with a cost but the long term benefits can outweigh the initial investment
Identify the people within your business who can act as mental health ‘advocates’
Ensure that employees know who they can speak to
Create a culture of understanding
There has never been more acceptance of the importance of mental health
Ensure that the right materials are distributed to your teams – awareness breeds understanding
Have regular informal catch-ups rather than formal monthly or quarterly meetings – these meetings can help create an open channel of communication
Know your limitations
The role of business is not to diagnose, treat or offer any medical/psychiatric advice
You should be alert to any significant changes in behaviour and have open communication. Seek outside help if the issue needs escalating.
Mental wellbeing has become an issue that businesses can no longer ignore or push to one side
Taking a proactive approach can have an impact that extends outside of your business as well as a commercial benefit
Creating an informal culture of understanding is the most powerful way to help your employees
If you feel that mental health problems are putting someone at risk then you should seek external help
Managing Mental Health in the Workplace, Investors in People, 2018
Mental Health at Work 2018 Summary Report – Seizing the Momentum, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, 2018
Mental Health Conditions, work and the workplace, Health & Safety Executive
NHS 111 in advanced cases
Anxiety UK, Mind, Samaritans, ReThink Mental Health and Mental Health Foundation
Training courses from the following providers:
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