What Can You Do to Support Mental Health at Work?

World Mental Health Day 2019

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Many people are frightened of admitting to experiencing mental health issues, especially in the workplace. The reality is that over 1 in 4 of us experience poor mental health, in varying degrees of severity, at some point during our lives. Feeling able to be open about this, admitting that we may be struggling, helps remove stigma and potentially helps others too.

Just like our physical health, our mental health can change. Hopefully we spend most of our time thriving at work, but there can be periods where we may struggle or even become unwell.

We all have times when we feel down, perhaps stressed, anxious or frightened. Most of the time, those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious, possibly long-term problem and that could happen to any one of us.

How does your organisation tackle mental health awareness? Is awareness training provided by your HR Teams?

After all we all need to support mental health.

As well as the human cost, there are huge financial costs to employers in lost productivity, time off work and staff turnover. Here are some startling statistics around the cost of mental health to the UK. Some alarming statistics around the economic cost of poor mental health and its effect on business reveals that the estimated annual cost of absenteeism due to poor mental health is £8 billion with £26 billion in lost productivity.

Take a look around you. Do you think a colleague might be struggling with poor health or do they seem unusually stressed?  What signs may there be that they might be experiencing a mental health condition?

Each person is unique of course but the signs that they may be struggling can include:

  • Unexplained sick days
  • Drop in performance
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Bad decision making
  • Moody or irritable

So if you spot these potential “red flags” what should you do about it?

As a Manager, there are many ways you can support a colleague who is experiencing mental health problems. Sometimes it can be as simple as making it clear you are there to talk when they need extra support. Or it could be that a more structured approach would be beneficial. Everyone is different.

As an organisation, you can ensure you promote a culture where staff feel cared for and supported, helping them when they are absent from work, and encouraging them to return to work in a way that works well for everyone.

Taking a top down approach means that senior managers are responsible for raising awareness, as well as implementing policies and procedures which support the whole business, as well as the individual.

Having policies and procedures in place helps provide a framework to work to in such situations. But everyone and every situation is different and your procedures need to be flexible enough to accommodate this.

Company wide/ HR mandated awareness training plays a part in this too and any course which you offer needs to make all employees, regardless of their role, aware of what they can do to help colleagues.