World Mental Health Day – Well being in the work place
On World Mental Health Day it’s important to take a look at mental well being in the work place.
Many of us spend a long time in work – sometimes more so than we do at home – so how we feel in work can have a significant impact on our mental health and well-being.
Sometimes life can get difficult and often this can be work related – for example we may feel overwhelmed by our work loads, the constant deadlines, the commute to work and the general slog of trying to maintain a healthy work life balance in a society where the demands placed on us seem greater than ever.
Against this backdrop it is important that employers recognise that good mental health is important for an individuals psychical health, social well being and productivity in the work place. In January 2018, it was reported that more than a quarter of civil service sick days in 2017 were due to mental health. This was more than double the national average, with the Office for National Statistics reporting that 15.8m days were lost in the UK labour market due to mental health issues including stress, depression and anxiety in 2016.
So it’s important for employers to take seriously the importance of maintaining good mental health.
Traditionally people have found it more difficult to talk about mental health issues in the work place but many employers are making strides in terms of proactively ensuring the mental well being of their employees is at the forefront of initiatives to improve staff health. Many organisations now have employee networks in place to support colleagues with mental health issues and encouraging staff to share and discuss issues to reduce the stigma long associated with mental health problems. Such initiatives also help embed into the culture of an organisation that it is okay not to be okay and there is support available. We explored a number of other useful initiatives employers can implement to help support the mental well being of their employees and here are our top tips:
- Promote a safe, inclusive and confidential working environment where mental health issues are recognised and supported. Train and develop managers on how to recognise potential mental health issues in their teams and have measures in place to facilitate compassionate and effective line management. Ensure there are employee assistance schemes in place and staff know how to access these.
- Raise awareness of mental health issues across the organisation and encourage openness to help reduce the stigma often associated with mental health issues. This might be through drop in sessions, inviting mental health charities to talk to staff, provide staff with regular updates on developments in policy and procedure for supporting people in the work place with mental health issues. Embed in the values of supporting mental health and well being into culture of the organisation and ensure this is included in inductions for all new staff.
- Set up a confidential support network where people can talk in a safe place with others who have experienced or are experiencing mental health issues. Encourage mental health champions so people can easily identify others they can talk to or approach for support.
- Provide help and advice to those suffering with mental health problems – this might be through flexible working options, home working or reasonable adjustments to support colleagues through their mental health issues.
- Simply be kind.