Mental health awareness and mental health in the workplace
Mental health is a subject on everyone’s lips at the moment thanks to Theresa May’s bid to produce a new Mental Health Treatment Bill to replace the 1983 Mental Health Act, which is widely regarded as flawed.
Mounting pressureIn this day and age, the strain on individuals seems to be heightened, with mounting work pressures, juggling family/work and the scourge of social media & new technology. We have been dubbed as a ‘generation on the edge’ and, there couldn’t be a better time to talk about this than now, amidst Mental Health Awareness Week, 2017, which bears the theme of ‘surviving and thriving’.Bizarrely, we have come to accept that to keep our heads above water we will automatically feel some level or high levels of anxiety and depression; hence only ‘surviving’, but at what cost to our health, relationships and future? What we really need to be doing is ‘thriving’ and so this week has set-out to demonstrate the practical steps we, as individuals, policy makers and business owners can take to build a mentally healthy nation.Removing the stigmaFinally, thanks to the brave efforts of many public icons and celebrities, mental health is no longer seen as a taboo subject. Coming to the forefront and revealing their struggles with mental health issues, we have seen moving stories in recent times from the likes of Prince Harry, various footballers such as Ryan Giggs and actors such as Robin Williams.#1in4 campaign In fact, 1 in 4 people now have Mental health issues, spanning anxiety and depression and the #1in4 campaign, is part of the BBC’s Minds Matter mental health season, sharing words of solidarity, many from personal experience, and aiming to demonstrate that you shouldn’t be ashamed by mental health issues and instead encouraging fans to speak out. Celebrities are posting pictures on social media with their 4 fingers pointing to a camera show their support, utilising #1in4.Poor mental health in the workplaceOf course with stats like the above, it’s no surprise that this transfers to the workplace and is the leading cause of sickness absence. According to the Mental Health Foundation, a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. This equates to 1 in 5 employees calling in sick to avoid work!In addition, nearly 50% of staff have considered resigning because of workplace pressures.The effect on your business With worrying stats like the above, this is something businesses cannot ignore. It’s imperative to work with employees to understand their fears, worries and pressures and ensure they’re supported both in and out the workplace. Not listening could prove very costly – to the individual and to your business; According to ACAS: ‘mental health problems cost employers in the UK £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence’.What next?Below are some simple steps to bring mental health to the forefront of your business agenda:
- Break the taboo
- The conversation will start in HR, but this needs to be a company-wide strategy and needs buy-in from Senior Levels.
- Look at your sickness rates and employee turnover and set your targets
- Bring in an outside training and mental health advisory service
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