Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 serves a timely reminder about mental health at work which is becoming all-too common as we navigate our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic. We still live in an age where people can be uncomfortable talking about how they feel, especially if they are suffering from low mood, or depression. How many employees are suffering in silence, putting on a brave face? The answer is a lot more than you might think.
Dealing with Mental Health at Work
The Mental Health Foundation report that now more than ever mental health issues are on the increase in the workplace with a loss of 70 million working days, at a cost of £2.4bn every year. The impact of mental health issues on staff members, and therefore on the efficacy of businesses is something every employer knows about and grapples with. Absence management, manager and employee relationships, complying with the Equality Act 2010, productivity and even personal injury claims. You actually have a legal duty to assess the risks to your employee’s health from stress at work and share the results of any risk assessment with them.
It is important to approach the subject of mental health at work in a holistic way – the effects on both the business and the employees, the people you rely on the make your business function and hopefully thrive. By showing a caring attitude, and offering some understanding and kindness, perhaps even helping employees manage their mental health, the benefits can be remarkable. A happy workforce, a workforce committed to the business which showed commitment to them, can result in absence rates falling and productivity rising, as work becomes a win-win for employer and employee alike.
Spotting the Signs of Stress
Do you know your employees well enough to spot the signs of stress or depression? Some key stress indicators include:
- A usually decisive person now being indecisive.
- A team member who is starting to isolate themselves and seems quieter than usual.
- A confident person now seeming nervous.
- Is a colleague unable to concentrate when previously they had been focused?
Do your employees feel free to talk with you as their line manager or employer? How confident are you in approaching your team to ask how they are feeling?
What can you do to help?
- The single most effective measure is to get people talking about mental health issues within the workplace, this can include investing in mental health first aid training. Your trained staff can return to the office and share with others what they’ve learned, raising awareness and making it easier for people to come forward if they’re struggling.
- The Time to Change Organisation may be something else to consider, as the charity provides help and tools to educate businesses about mental health at work.
- Prevention is essential, whether that involves providing your employees with motivation to keep actively fit, supplying them with fresh fruit or introducing a mindfulness programme into your business. Mindfulness is now a widely recognised and efficient way to help deal with stress and general mental health.
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