Mental health at work: What's going wrong?

14/05/2018

 

Mental health at work: What’s going wrong?

A study conducted by mental health charity Mind revealed that 48 per cent of the 44,000 employees surveyed said they had experienced a mental health problem in their current role. The study also found that only half of those who had experienced poor mental health had talked to their employer about it, suggesting that as many as one in four UK workers is struggling in silence.

According to the TUC, 46 percent of people with depression and bad nerves are in jobs, with this falling to just 33.7 per cent for people with mental illness or phobias.

Such statistics suggest that not enough is currently being done to help make workforces supportive and accessible to those experiencing mental health issues. Indeed, a recent poll by the Institute of Directors appears to confirm this, finding that less than one in five firms offered mental health training for managers. Additionally, the survey found that poor relationships with line managers, along with heavy workloads, have the most significant negative impact on employees’ mental health, closely followed by poor relationships with colleagues.

What’s being done about it?

Back in 2017, the government commissioned Lord Stevenson and chief executive of Mind Paul Farmer to review the role that employers can play to better support individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace.

The report entitled ‘Thriving at Work’ sets out a framework of ‘Core Standards’ that employers of all sizes should put in place. These standards have been designed to help employers improve the mental health of their workplace to help employees thrive.

Practical advice for employers

Employers undoubtedly play a crucial role in supporting staff when it comes to maintaining their mental wellbeing. Here are some tips for employers to ensure their workers feel looked after and supported:

  • Education. All line managers need to be up to speed with the mental health issues that could affect their staff. This includes being able to spot the signs and symptoms as they present themselves and being able to discuss any issues sensitively and effectively.

  • Get talking. By making mental health a key discussion topic in the workplace, you will help to break down barriers to make it an intrinsic part of your culture. Simply being more open about mental health issues will help your staff feel understood and that it’s a safe environment for them to share any concerns about their mental health or that of their colleagues.

  • Regular one-on-ones. There’s no better way for managers to identify a range of symptoms synonymous with mental health issues than by spending time alone with them. You will then be able to work closely to develop a plan, make reasonable adjustments, or return to work plans should they require extra support. Wellness Action Plans (WAPs) are a tried and tested way to help support your team members from a mental health standpoint.

If you need help putting together a mental health plan for your business, you can ask for advice from your recruitment partner or check out Mind’s range of useful resources.

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