This month I thought I would write about a topic that will touch all of us at some point in our lives, either directly or through the people we care about or work with.
I recently exhibited at the CDX18 Expo in Manchester and was fortunate to attend a fabulous presentation by Matt Wigginton from the automotive charity Ben called ‘Why mental health is more important than Brexit’. A survey conducted by Ben asked business leaders what they thought would be the biggest impact on their business. Unsurprisingly 28% said Brexit but interestingly 38% said Mental Health.
So what is mental health? Mental health is a positive sense of wellbeing and includes three core things – emotional, physiological and social wellbeing. Conversely, mental ‘ill’ health is a negative sense of wellbeing and covers a number of different conditions ranging from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OSD).
Did you know?
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem ‘each year’ (Mind 2017).
3 in 5 people linked the symptoms of poor mental health to work or said that work was a contributing factor (BITC, 2016).
Staggeringly, 15 million absence days are linked to stress, anxiety and depression (ONS, 2016).
Looking at these statistics this isn’t something businesses can afford to ignore.
What’s just as enlightening is how unsupported employees feel at work:
Fewer than half of employees told their bosses after being diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Only 41% of employees said they would be able to talk openly with their line manager if they were experiencing stress.
1 in 5 people would not disclose stress or mental health issues for fear of being placed first in line for redundancy.
It would be unfair to lay the blame of mental health conditions solely with employers as there can be many contributing factors. At home these may be related to bereavement, moving house, job loss, financial concerns, illness of a family member or friend, divorce or partnership breakdown. But as an employer it is worth acknowledging how work can also have a significant impact. Contributing factors may be long working hours, poor communication, lack of control, work overload and uncertainty.
What can you do?
An important step is to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace and to create a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health. This may include reviewing practices which could have an adverse impact on mental wellbeing, such as, encouraging staff to work less hours, improving communication and empowering employees.
Find out how to have a conversation with someone about their mental health. You may need to take the lead as it can sometimes be difficult for an employee to bring it up themselves.
Support someone experiencing a mental health problem, for instance; make simple adjustments to someone’s job role, be more flexible with start, finish and break times, change their workspace to somewhere quieter or where there is more natural light, allow time off to attend appointments for therapy and counselling.
Get better at managing an employee’s time off sick and their return to work, for instance; maintain regular open and meaningful communication, take your lead from how people choose to communicate, ask how people are doing and focus conversations on their well-being, consider visiting the employee at home and keep people in the loop about important developments at work.
For more information about how you can have a positive impact on mental health in the workplace visit www.mind.org.uk.
On a personal level there are lots of steps individuals can take to improve their own mental health. Bullet points highlighted in bold are particularly important:
Talk about your feelings
Keep in touch with family and friends
Take time for you
Accept who you are
Drink sensibly (I referring to alcohol)
Ask for help
Do things you are good at
Care for others
Get enough sleep
Maintain your hygiene
I have intentionally not covered any legal requirements, instead I have focused on raising awareness and what positive steps employers and individuals can take. If you would like to know more about the legal stuff, please get in touch.
Ben (for free and confidential advice)
t: 08081 311 333
If you are concerned or have any questions about mental health or any other HR related matter please contact me, Natalie Perks, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01463 262428