The topic of mental health in the workplace is something an increasing amount of employers are turning their attentions to. With almost one in four employees now found to be struggling with their wellbeing, it is more widely acknowledged than ever that healthy minds should be prioritised as much as our physical health.
Employees and managers alike should be encouraged not only to look after their own mental health at work, but to be aware of how colleagues are handling their duties too. In Bupa’s recent Workplace Wellbeing Census, 50% of those surveyed said their colleagues positively affected their wellbeing. So the impact of maintaining good working relationships cannot be underestimated. Offering help to those around us who may need it can make a crucial difference to their life at work, for the better.
There is still a way to go with communicating the benefits of opening up at work, when we are struggling to cope. A perceived stigma around mental health still holds many back from seeking the support they need; 48% of survey respondents said that they don’t tell anyone about their wellbeing issues at work, for fear of judgement from others. Despite this, 79% of participants said that they would use health and wellbeing services at work if needed. This indicates that a variety of options for workplace mental health support may be necessary, potentially via services offering anonymity or impartial advice from a professional or someone outside of that person’s team.
Helping out our colleagues could happen in various ways, whether we are able to do that ourselves or refer them to someone else better equipped for their needs. The first step is being able to identify any changes in behaviour which suggest they need support. Managers, in particular, have a duty of care to those on their team, yet 42% of employees said that they would feel uncomfortable discussing wellbeing issues with their manager. Detailed information on how to approach this can be found in Bupa’s manager guide for supporting mental health and wellbeing of staff. Suggestions include:
- Ask for support and training on how best to help those in need
- Look for the signs that team members are struggling
- Know your company policy around mental health support
- Always make yourself available for open conversation
- Show appreciation of their efforts day-to-day
Particular groups found to be in need of support include under-35s, with one in three reporting their mental health at work as poor. The Census also showed that women are most likely to experience bullying or discrimination in the workplace. Findings such as these help us to understand others’ experiences when we are looking to inspire those in our business and help all team members to thrive. However, as Mark Allan, Commercial Director for Bupa UK Insurance, says, “It is important to remember that there are no stereotypes in mental health; any of us could be affected at any time, and no employee’s wellbeing should be overlooked. If we all encourage openness and normalise the fact that it takes a conscious effort to nurture our mental health, then nobody should need to feel they are alone at work.”
Bupa Workplace Wellbeing Census, November 2019