World Mental Health Day
Date: 10th October 2016
Mental Health is unfortunately still, (despite the fact it is 2016), a very taboo subject in many people’s eyes and more needs to be done to make people aware of different types of mental illness and how it can affect suffers day to day lives.
The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day once a year in order to try and raise awareness around the world and mobilise efforts to support mental health, this year it falls on Monday, October 10th.
Research conducted by The Mental Health Foundation in 2015 suggests:
- 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- ¾ of those affected by mental health problems receive no treatment.
- Mental health issues place a larger burden on medical and support services in the UK than cancer and heart disease.
- In the UK, 70 million days are lost from work each year due to mental ill health, making it the leading cause of sickness absence, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
Further research has been conducted by Mind confirming there is a culture of silence and fear surrounding mental health in the workplace.
Mind’s research found when asked how they were affected by workplace stress those surveyed said:
- 21% agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work
- 14% agreed that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning
- 30% disagreed with the statement ‘I would be able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’
The research also found that 56% of employers surveyed would like to do more to improve employee wellbeing but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance.
So the questions we as employers are faced with are what can we do to create mentally healthy workplaces and how can we support our employees when they are suffering from mental ill health?
In order to create a mentally healthy workplace by reducing uncertainty and preventing stress, it is imperative to have effective management and open dialogue.
Raising awareness and promoting discussions of mental health and wellbeing helps to improve employee engagement alongside helping to overcome prejudice and promotes an open culture where employees feel more comfortable disclosing issues sooner.
For more information regarding creating a mentally healthy workplace, the Charity Mind offer a free resource booklet that is easily downloadable from their website
In creating a mentally healthy workplace for our employees we are already taking a step forward in supporting those that are experiencing mental health problems by creating an open supportive and understanding culture.
In order to support members of our team who are experiencing mental health issues we firstly need to be able to identify them. So how do you know if a member of your team is experiencing a mental health issue?
There may be no outward sign, however, you know the members of your team and you may notice changes in them and their behaviour which could indicate a mental health problem. Remember there are no set “signs” of a mental health issue and it is extremely important not to make assumptions about people’s mental health, however, some indications may include:
- Changes in people’s behaviour and/or mood and how they interact with colleagues
- Changes in their work output, focus and motivation levels
- Struggling to get organised, to find solutions to problems and make decisions
- Appearing tired, withdrawn or anxious
- Loss of interest in a task they have previously enjoyed
- Changes in habits such as increased smoking and drinking
- Changes to appetite
Once you have identified that an employee may be experiencing a mental health issue you may need to take the lead and raise it with them as they may not feel that they can be open about what they are experiencing. On many occasions managers who do not feel comfortable addressing mental health issues respond in an overly formal manner, for example, escalating the case start to HR. However, as the employee’s manager, you will be the person who knows that employee best and it is important to establish an open dialogue as soon as possible.
Once again the charity Mind has produced a useful free resource offering help and advice on supporting employees who are experiencing mental health issues which can be downloaded from the previous link.
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