Mental Health in the Workplace
Posted: 26th Oct 2017
Tuesday the 10th of October 2017 was World Mental Health Day.
This annual event, recognised by the World Health Organisation, is held to raise awareness of mental health issues. It is widely known that as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, so if you yourself are not affected, chances are you will know someone who is.
Over the past few years, there has been huge progress in the awareness of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Widely publicised campaigns by mental health charities such as Mind and The Samaritans, as well as public figures such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, have worked to combat the stigma that surrounds mental health.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health in the workplace’. According to the Mental Health Foundation, every year in the UK 70 million workdays are lost due to mental illness.
So, how can we improve mental health in the workplace?
According to Chris O’Sullivan of the Mental Health Foundation, prevention is key. “We need to enable everyone to flourish, those in distress to access help quickly, and those who have recovered from mental health problems to stay well and enjoy successful careers”.
Chris recommends that any staff who have line management responsibilities need training and support, so that they are able to recognise early signs of a mental health condition and can put in strategies to support staff who are affected.
Managers may also need help in how to start a conversation about mental health issues with staff, as there is often a fear of saying the wrong thing and causing offence.
Try to develop a culture of openness and awareness in the workplace. To achieve this, speak about mental health in staff newsletters, put up posters in communal areas and use other internal communications to raise awareness of issues that people may encounter in the workplace.
The following are ‘top tips’ to try to reduce stress in the workplace
If you have a management role:
- Encourage staff to take regular breaks away from their desks and get out of the office to reduce stress.
- Trial a ‘power-down hour’, where everyone steps away from their email and is relieved of the pressure to immediately respond to requests.
- Review job descriptions to make sure these set out clear and realistic expectations of staff.
- Think about how success is measured and also how people are rewarded for their efforts.
Click here to download a resource for managers.
These are good tips for everyone:
- Get moving – exercise reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Be aware – look out for signs of stress or mental health problems among your coworkers
- Listen and be open – be supportive and non-judgemental of people experiencing mental health problems.
- Be ready – be aware of options for treatment or support for people with mental health problems.
- Listen and talk – encourage co-workers in distress to talk, seek professional help, and inform managers when they or others are at risk.
- Take care too – don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
If you are currently suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or another mental health condition, please see this page for links and contact details for a number of organisations set up to help.
If you feel you are in danger of harming yourself or another person please seek help immediately.
Wishing you good mental health.