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Managing Mental Health in the Workplace
1 in 6 people in the UK are currently dealing with a mental health problem, and for 2 million people it’s work-related, (Mind). This week, 11-17 May 2015, is Mental Health Awareness Week, and is designed to get people talking about mental health.
The following infographic by Paperstone highlights the scale of mental health problems in the UK workplace, plus some advice for employers on how to take positive steps in their organisation.
Infographic: 9 Reasons why UK Businesses Should Care about Mental Health
Across UK workplaces, our mental health is most damaged by stress and bullying (Mind).
The HSE identifies unreasonable demands, a lack of control and poor support as three triggers for workplace stress.
There is a stigma attached to someone admitting that they are suffering from mental distress and seeking treatment.
This stigma, and the fear of discrimination prevents more than two-fifths of sufferers admitting it to their employers (Acas).
Reducing workplace stress, and tackling workplace bullies are notoriously difficult issues to address with an employer. Sometimes the employer themselves might be the main perpetrator. This only goes to support mental health stigma and discrimination, with many choosing to suffer in silence.
Mental health issues are responsible for half of all long-term absences from work in the UK (NHS).
This shocking statistic shows that not enough is being done by employers to diagnose, support and rehabilitate staff suffering from mental health problems.
Returning to work is also not straightforward for those of us affected by mental health issues.
44% of those suffering from mental health problems said that stigma and discrimination were huge barriers to returning to normal employment (Time To Change).
What can Employers do to Help?
Although employers have a duty of care to their employees, providing any advice on mental health issues should only be performed by a trained professional.
However, there are still plenty of positive steps an employer can take to improve their workforce’s mental wellbeing.
Mind have produced an excellent guide for employers who want to create a mentally healthy workplace. A summary of the main steps to take can be seen in the infographic above.
The first step is for employers to understand the level of mental wellbeing in their workplace. This should be done with an anonymous survey where employees can express their honest opinions free from stigma and discrimination.
Following the survey, employers should establish an action plan. The goals should be to promote wellbeing through improved working relationships, training for managers and adjusting work-life balance.
Often the best ideas for changes to make will come from your employees. Implementing these changes will demonstrate that you are listening to your staff, which is also a boost for your organisation’s wellbeing.
Staff suffering from mental health issues must be engaged with and supported whether they are are continuing to work through their problems, or have taken leave.
Any employee suffering from mental health issues will often be low on confidence, so having regular contact and being clear about their continued value to the organisation is key.
Offering a phased return to work means that stress levels are kept manageable. Returning to work for one or two days a week is likely to appeal far more and will allow you and your organisation to support them in their transition.
Mental health issues are having a huge impact on people at work in the UK. A concerted effort from employers to support and engage with the problem will only serve to make organisations happier, healthier and more productive.
About the Author
Paperstone sell stationery, office supplies and furniture to businesses across the UK via their website www.paperstone.co.uk. We believe in helping UK workplaces to become healthier and happier.