Mental health in the workplace

30 October 2015

October 10, 2015, marked World Mental Health Day, an annual campaign created to educate and to highlight the impact of mental health on our society. This year’s theme was Dignity in Mental Illness – what can it teach us about treating mental health in the office?

World Mental Health Day is an annual global campaign run by the World Federation of Mental Health1. This year’s message was Dignity in Mental Illness and its aim was to promote compassion and respect in our understanding and treatment of mental health. The campaign also sought to break down barriers that prevent people from getting the treatment they need.

Who suffers from mental health problems?

Any one of us can suffer from mental health problems. The Mental Health Foundation says one in four adults is likely to suffer mental ill health at some point in their life2.

What is mental health?

Mental health covers a broad spectrum of conditions, including stress, depression, schizophrenia, learning difficulties and anorexia3.

Treating mental health

There is still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health, which often prevents people from seeking the help they need. The Mental Health Foundation launched a Fundamental Facts campaign in October to furnish the public with information in a bid to break through the stigma and encourage people to seek help and support4.

Mental health in the workplace

Research by Mind has revealed just how costly our silence around mental health is, with a survey that discovered one in five people take a day off work due to stress, one in 10 people have resigned due to stress and 19 per cent of employees feel they can’t speak to managers about stress at work. Over half of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance5.

What you can do

Look out for changes in people’s behaviour – have they become more irritable or withdrawn? Do they appear tired or anxious? Maybe they’re missing deadlines or staying late at work5. The first step is to try to create a culture that supports staff to talk about their mental health. If you believe an employee is suffering from a mental health problem, you may need to take the lead5. Work together to find a solution – maybe they need to stagger their lunch break over the day or perhaps a leave of absence is required. In some cases, counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy could be helpful. If an employee has healthcare insurance, they should seek help through these channels.

This year’s World Mental Health Day focused on Dignity in Mental Illness as another way to break down the stigma attached to problems like stress, depression and anorexia. Employers can do their bit to stop this stigma by creating an open atmosphere at work that encourages staff to speak up when they’re suffering from stress or other mental ill health. Coming up with solutions to help employees with stress will not only improve wellbeing, it can also help avoid unnecessary resignations.

Speak to our small business team to find out more.

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