Mental Health in the Workplace: Practical advice for supporting your employees

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.

Legal

Some (but not all) mental illnesses will be classified under the Equality Act meaning you may need to make reasonable adjustments in working conditions

Commercial

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)

Moral

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

Physical

  • Panic Attacks or breathing difficulties
  • Decrease in activity
  • Excessive tiredness

Psychological

  • Distraction
  • Forgetfulness or memory loss
  • Irritability or anger
  • Visible anxiety

Behavioural

  • Withdrawal
  • 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

Recommended resources/training:

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.

Summary

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

Additional Resources

Reading

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

Support

NHS 111 in advanced cases

Helplines include:

Anxiety UK, Mind, Samaritans, ReThink Mental Health and Mental Health Foundation

Training courses from the following providers:

Download this blog as a presentation: Click Here.

Freddie Chirgwin-Bell

Marketing & Communications Executive at Morgan Jones Recruitment Consultants
Freddie joined Morgan Jones in 2019 and has quickly established himself as the marketing authority in the group. Bringing years of experience to the role he is in charge of all aspects of the brand's marketing.

I'm passionate about making marketing more human and less robotic and automated. Marketing is about making true connections and having great communication.

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