What is mental health?
Mental health is related to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It has a knock – on effect to how we deal with stress, how we relate to others and how we make choices.
As you can see, these are all things that you would need to be able to do well in almost every job and career.
People that have good mental health are more likely to work productively, interact with colleagues, clients and customers well, have good work attendance and overall be and feel a valuable member of the workplace.
Cost of poor mental health
In the UK, according to a Labour Force Survey report, <embed http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/lfs/index.htm > an average of 15.4 million working days were lost to work related stress, depression or anxiety during 2017/18, with an average of 25.8 days lost per case. In total, 57% of all working days lost were due to stress and anxiety. The estimated monetary cost of mental ill health to UK employers each year is between £33 billion and £42 billion.
Impact of Mental Health
A chartered institute of personnel and development study highlighted the impact of mental health in the workplace. These include:
- 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
- 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
- 80% find it difficult to concentrate
- 62% take longer to do tasks
Improving mental health can only be of benefit to the workplace, to you as an employer, and to your customers and clients. Employers also have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees.
Organisations should be thinking about the causes of workplace stress, how to reduce them in their workplace and how best to support staff when they do experience stress.
So; how can we improve mental health in the workplace, reduce stress and improve productivity?
Managers should be aware of the common causes of stress and anxiety and how to spot them in staff. The following things should be encouraged in staff and yourself to keep anxiety and stress levels low:
- Keep active. Especially if you work in an office, encourage staff to go for a walk during lunch breaks, or join a cycle-to-work scheme, or even installing standing desks.
- Foster an atmosphere of openness and communication, so that problems can be discussed and addressed before they become detrimental.
- Maintain a good work-life balance. Try and keep “crunch periods” to a minimum. < https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/20/17130056/telltale-games-developer-layoffs-toxic-video-game-industry>
- Support employees’ efforts to get help. Whether that means allowing an employee to take a mental health day or offering a flexible work schedule so an individual can attend therapy appointments, make it clear you won’t penalize anyone for taking care of their mental health.
If you are experiencing mental ill health, there is a lot of help and support available to you.
- Access to work that can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs if you have a disability or a long-term health condition and are already in work or about to start. Grants may be available to help cover the cost of workplace adaptations to enable you to carry out your job without being at a disadvantage. For more information, go to gov.uk/access-to-work.
- Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) / Wellbeing Services exist in all localities but there’s not a single point of access. You should check with your GP surgery to see if this may be available near you.
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Their helpline and website provide information and support to empower anyone experiencing mental ill health and general advice on mental health-related law. For more information, go to mind.org.ukor call 0300 123 3393.
- NHS choices has a website that offers information and practical advice for anyone experiencing mental ill health. For more information, go to nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth.
- Remploy offers a free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service if you are absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in (or return to) their role. For more information, go to remploy.co.ukor call 0300 4568114.
- Rethink Mental Illness is the largest national voluntary sector provider of mental health services, offering support groups, advice and information on mental health problems. For more information, go to rethink.orgor call 0300 5000 927.
Written by Andrew Callister