Why it’s time for a common policy on Mental Health at Work

Mental health at work

I am currently reading “This Is Going To Hurt” by Adam Kay the million copy bestselling diaries of an ex Junior Doctor.

During the promotional tours for his book, Kay was often asked what we as individuals can do to help support all NHS workers? His answer was simple “Ask them how their day was”. This act of reaching out and offering to listen to anyone who works for NHS could be just about as  effective as anything else we could do – and it costs nothing.

The “stigma” around mental health – especially in the NHS but everywhere in society – makes the need to talk about it even more vital. Kay’s advice is on a personal level but what about nationally and internationally?

One only has to look at published data for recorded cases of mental health to realise that this is a problem that affects all of us in one way or another.

A recent survey commissioned for Business in the Community found that only 50% of us felt comfortable talking about mental health issues at work, while 40% said they had experienced a work-related mental health issue in the past year.

In the past year!

Thirty large organisations including Government Departments, John Lewis Partnership and Lloyds Banking Group have recently all signed up to promote the mental health at work commitment – a promises to prioritise better mental health in the workplace, focus on improving working practices, and make “tools and support” available for those who may be experiencing difficulties – this may include access to training, HR support and mentoring as well as referral to external agencies.

What about at a micro level? What is your business doing to spread the word around mental health? Would you know what to do if a colleague came to you and asked for support regarding a mental health issue? If that person was you what kid of support did you receive from HR – was there any mandated training on spotting the signs of poor mental health.

Anything that makes that conversation easier must be valuable. At even a basic level Mental Health awareness training can start the conversation and should be offered to all staff.