Over the last 5 years, mental health has become a topic of sorts within the board room, however in the last 12 months the reality of the effects of mental health and how prevalent it is has become, is very evident especially in the last year.
A lot of emphasis has been on a person’s physical well-being, with companies implementing benefits or initiatives that can improve their employee’s physical health. Subsequently, the subject of mental well-being, traditionally, has had a stigma attached to it. Unfortunately, this creates a negative connotation towards someone who is suffering from a mental illness. Mental Health can be constituted as stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, mood disorders and many more complex forms of mental illnesses.
The UK Workplace Wellbeing Study have found mental health to be the second biggest challenge set to face employers within the next five years. Every-week around 6.5 million adults in the UK will suffer a common mental health problem, including anxiety and depression. Therefore, it would not be surprising that these feelings can affect a person’s job performance or their ability to be productive, motivated or even affect their judgement. These can be costly to an organisation as mistakes and accidents can happen, consequently, the link between mental well-being and your organisations success is very enormous.
What can Employers do differently?
Many organisations have implemented an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is a confidential dedicated helpline with qualified counsellors to speak to about any mental health issues. Having a benefit like this will not only enable your employees to seek the help they need but should enable the employee to have the tools they need to prevent absenteeism and maintain high levels of productivity.
Whilst the above is probably the first benefit that employers would offer to support employees in this area, it is recommended that companies start thinking outside of this scope to treat mental health as strongly as they treat health and safety/ physical well-being within the company. Mental Health First Aiders are not mandatory but recommended. It will give your employees confidence that as an organisation, you do care, and you have put resources in place to support this. A Mental Health First Aider would be the first line support for someone with mental health issues to go to and seek support. The person is also to provide the relevant advice and guidance to Line Managers so they can put the necessary measures in place to support their employees more effectively. Mental Health should no longer be a stigma but embraced as another element to focus on when improving well-being within the organisation.
How can Employees cope in the Workplace with Mental Health Issues?
Some of the feelings you are having now may feel difficult to manage. For those of us with existing mental health problems, they may be particularly tough. You might find it useful to try some of these suggestions:
Talk to someone you trust. Starting is hard but sharing your experiences can help you feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself.
Make choices to control the things you can. Make 2 lists, the things you can change on 1 and the things you can’t change on another.
Get support from organisations that can help. Mind’s useful contact page lists lots of organisations who can help with different areas of mental illness including bereavement.
Seek help. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is ok to ask for help. A good place to start is to speak to your GP, or the Mental health First Aider at work if you have one, or access the Employee Assistant Programme through your workplace. The NHS and other services have adapted especially during the Coronavirus outbreak. There are video and telephone appointments available, if you need to speak to someone.