Over the last decade, mental health has become more recognised and understood.
Considering we spend over 90,000 hours of our lives at work – it’s important we find a balance between our jobs and our wellbeing.
Let’s look into some stats and solutions when it comes to mental health in the workplace.
The effects of mental health
One of the biggest issues in the modern-day workplace is mental health, causing over 70 million working days to be lost each year. This can vary from more common symptoms of stress through to the more complex conditions such as BPD and OCD.
Not only does mental health massively impact the employee but it also has a negative effect on the employer when not dealt with properly. It can result in high staff turnover, increased sick days, exhaustion and lack of productivity.
An important way to deal with this issue is to educate from the top down. Ensure the board members in the company are aware of the effect mental health is having on the business. These tend to be the people who aren’t in the office day to day and therefore can be a bit blind to the issues.
Be sure to present facts and figures rather than emotion. Collate the data on how many members of staff have left due to a lack of flexibility and support and how many sick days are being taken for suspected mental health reasons – 95% of employees calling in sick with stress give a different reason.
An issue that is often mentioned alongside mental health at work is the inflexibility of management giving time off. When things get tough at work, we feel even more hesitant to take time off for ourselves and almost feel guilty. As previously mentioned, we should treat mental health the same way we treat physical health, and you probably wouldn’t drag yourself into work if you had a broken leg.
If you’ve noticed your employee hasn’t taken time off in a long time, encourage them to have a duvet day or even work from home. Provide that flexibility and you’ll see a huge difference in your employees.
With mental health having always been a taboo, it’s a big adjustment to both employees and employers to be more vocal and open about the issue.
With 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health problems at work, it should be as openly discussed as a broken leg.
Employers should look to create an open and caring culture in which mental health is not something to be ashamed of. Combating these issues isn’t just beneficial for the employees, benefiting mental health could save UK businesses alone up to £8 billion a year! Not only this, but happy workers do good work. Highlighting the issues of mental health will show an increase in productivity and motivation.
There are things to keep a lookout for when it comes to spotting mental health:
Here’s a guide created by Mental health.org
One area that mental health can affect is your ability to build, hold and maintain relationships/friendships
A lot of the time, the best thing about your job can be the people you work with, so when you’re uncomfortable about opening up to your work friends, it can take a big strain. Friendship is absolutely crucial in living with mental health as it gives you a support system and makes it a lot less lonely.
In the same breath, if you think your friendship could help someone who may be struggling with mental health, dont be afraid to reach out. Not everyone is completely open and comfortable but if you let them know you’re there if they need you, that’s a relief in itself.
While the figures show that women are more likely to be affected by mental health, we do have to take these statistics with a pinch of salt. This is because men are known to be less open about mental health as they are institutionalised to be ‘manly’ and ‘strong’. However, in 2013, 6233 suicides were recorded in the UK and 78% of those were male. This shows us that men are less likely to talk about their issues and therefore they can get too much to handle.
It’s very important that the stigma against men is quashed and we treat everyone equally because mental health does not discriminate and can affect us all.
The first step any employer can take is prevention. Find the areas in your business you can change to make a more healthy environment. This can include flexible hours, encouraging small breaks from desks and more open conversations about mental health to develop an approachable atmosphere.
This is all about recognising the problems and stepping in before it becomes harder to handle. If you see an employee struggling then it’s time to step in. Be a helping hand in making them feel better with guidance, support and flexibility. This can massively help people who are at risk of spiralling into a dark place.
Make your work environment a safe place to be. If an employee requires time off for mental health reasons, make this an easy request and show compassion. Also, if an employee is returning to work from a break, ensure their return is welcoming and comfortable. This will avoid the employee feeling any guilt about taking time off and encourage them to be more forthcoming about it in the future.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, reach out to the resources below to ensure the help that’s needed is provided.
Samaritans – Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Mind Infoline – With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind works in partnership with around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.
Rethink – Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff.
Saneline – Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.