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Mental health and the workplace

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Increasingly mental health issues are a part of everyday life. It is estimated one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental health every year. But don’t worry, it’s completely natural. Mental health affects us all. 

The World Health Organisation predicts depression will be the single leading cause of mental health issues by the year 2030.

While we have a personal responsibility to look after our own wellbeing, an increased understanding and discussion of mental health will, over time, reduce discrimination experienced by those who have mental health issues.

So, what is mental health?

Mental health is about the way we think, feel and behave, with the most common symptoms  being anxiety and depression. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as:

‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Mental health is the ‘emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others’ dignity and worth’ according to the Health Education Authority.

Mental health illnesses are common across the world and will often occur in combination and not isolation. For example, a person may experience anxiety which can lead to depression. The impact of mental health issues can affect relationships, social relationships  and a person’s physical well-being and sadly even premature death.

Treatment and Support

There are many different types of treatment and support that can help people with mental health issues. While there are medical treatments from a doctor, psychological therapies that provide support can help an individual to address some issues and promote personal growth and coping skills.

Complementary therapies and lifestyle changes can be introduced to make positive changes to a person’s daily life. Support groups can bring people with common difficulties together, helping to reduce the feeling of isolation.

Work and the Workplace

Whether work is causing or aggravating an issue, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must be assessed, and steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably possible.

Employers may have further legal requirements, to make reasonable adjustments under equalities legislation. Learn more about employing people with health conditions on the UK government website.

Looking after your mental health in the workplace

We should all take steps to improve our own mental health, and build our resilience – which is our ability to cope with day-to-day issues we may face. These may include:

  1. Talking about your feelings
  2. Keep active
  3. Have a healthy diet and Drink alcohol sensibly 
  4. Use your annual leave entitlement when you most need it
  5. Do something outside of work that you’re good at or enjoy

Further Assistance

If you need to talk to a Samaritan, please view their contact details here

If you are an employer and would like to better understand mental health in the workplace. ACAS training improves skills in identifying issues and helps increase confidence in supporting colleagues. Click here for Acas support on mental health in the workplace.

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