How Can You Address Mental Health in the Workplace?

How Can You Address Mental Health in the Workplace?

According to the leading health charity Mind; one in six people in work experience mental health problems. This costs UK employers between £33-42 billion a year in unproductive and absent staff. So how do you address mental health in the workplace? By being open and aware of the importance of mental health, organisations can make a big difference. When a message comes from the top that mental health issues are real and important it is much easier for employees to deal with any mental health problems they are experiencing.

In 2017 a study was conducted across Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium and Sweden. Known as the Deloitte study it looked at the impact of mental health awareness initiative in the workplace. It provided clear evidence that these initiatives are having a positive impact.  

Mental Health Awareness at Work

The definition of mental health involves how we think, feel and behave. It impacts on daily life, relationships and can sometimes affect physical health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

When this balance is tipped and mental health issues present themselves there is a huge impact on business. Mental health issues cost UK employers between £33-42 billion a year in unproductive and absent staff. This is a huge financial cost. Whilst the negative impact of mental health issues are not entirely unavoidable, having an awareness of the importance of mental health can help workforces thrive. 

For a long time mental health issues have not been acknowledged and understood. They have been associated with stigma and a sense of shame. Many people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed discussing these matters and often become increasingly unable to cope due to a lack of acton. This is now changing. Increasingly businesses are becoming aware of the power of mental health promotion. Consistently, studies are showing strong evidence that organisations that take mental health seriously and promote mental health awareness are more successful than organisations that do not. 

By being open and aware of the importance of mental health organisations can make a big difference. When a message comes from the top that that mental health issues are real and important it is much easier for employees to deal with their problems. It is where many people spend much of their time and it can be a stressful and fast paced environment.  

Signs to Look Out For

As a manager you can look out for certain signs in your staff. Mental health problems may be present if a person experiences one or more of the following behaviours:

Making more mistakes and having difficulty in making decisions and concentrating.

Being unusually sensitive or irritable

Changes in their work habits such as absences or changes in work patterns ie starting late, staying too long, missing lunch. 

They seem consistently tired and under the weather 

Their personal appearance has changed and they don’t seem to show as much care.

They show sign of substance misuse such as smelling of alcohol. 

Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing

As we’ve seen, mental health problems are very common in the workplace. They can range from disorders such as anxiety to more serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Promoting good mental health can impact on physical health and improve many other aspects of people’s lives. This can help people:

Achieve their potential

Manage and cope with stress

Work productively

Engage with their local community

Organisations can promote mental health by providing:

Access to appropriate training

Promote mental health prevention in day to day work

Raise awareness of mental health and it’s importance

Encourage and accommodate healthy lifestyles with good food available, time away from desks or work stations and opportunity for physical activity.

It is vital that businesses and organisations have an awareness of mental health and its impacts. Engage in Learning provides online training courses which will help you and your organisation understand and deliver appropriate support and guidance to your employees.  

Our online training on stress at work can be found here