Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
Last week (8th to 14th May) was Mental Health Awareness week, and while it’s great to have a week that focusses on Mental Health, it is important as a business to make sure that your staff know that they have your support all year round.
Research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation shows that just 13% of the UK population has a high level of good mental health, meaning that within the workplace, a high number of staff will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives. People with mental health issues often say that it is continuing to attend work that provides them with some form of stability when trying to maintain and protect their health, they benefit from the identity, income and purpose that it brings. It is therefore vital that employers know how to deal with staff who open up to them about their mental health concerns.
It’s important that mental health is not seen as a stigma and that staff feel they can talk about and receive support on issues that have an impact on them. So many people within businesses, both managers and colleagues, can feel uncomfortable talking to someone they know has a mental health issue, that it can very often be easier to just ignore it and hope that it will resolve itself.
So what can businesses do to encourage a positive culture when it comes to their staff’s mental health? According to a survey carried out by Unum, the top three priorities for businesses to action, as identified by respondents, were:
- Developing a workplace culture that supports mental health and enables people to seek help when they need it. This should be a culture free from judgment where people can be open about the issues that they may be experiencing.
- A clear commitment from senior leadership to support mental health and wellbeing in the company. Line Managers should be trained in how to manage staff with mental health issues as well as being trained to spot the signs of distress, intervene early and know what support is available.
- Clear mental health policies within the company which are implemented at all levels. This could be through businesses offering staff access to specialist support, either through an Employee Assistance programme (EAP) or their Occupational Health provider, or something as simple as identifying a number of mental health ‘buddies’ within the workplace that staff can talk to in a safe environment.
Having a support mechanism in place for staff can sometimes make the difference between a short period of absence and an extended one if they do not feel supported at work. So, as both an employer and a colleague, it is vital to be as supportive of staff with mental health issues as you would with staff dealing with other illnesses.
If you have concerns that you may not be doing enough to support the mental health of your staff, do not hesitate to contact the team here at First Call HR who would be more than happy to help.
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