Mental health at work – it’s a subject that needs to be talked about. Our recent survey of working UK adults found that 86% believe that companies are not doing enough to support them with work-related mental health issues. That’s why we think it’s amazing to see Heads Together and Mind launch a much-needed ‘Mental Health at Work’ initiative aiming to change the way that we approach workplace mental health across the UK.
Work-related mental health issues are contributing to workplace problems like presenteeism and leavism. 86% of employers reported observing presenteeism – where employees are at work in body but unable to work to full capacity – in their organisation within the last 12 months, with only a quarter actively taking steps to address the issue. Leavism is an emerging trend, which sees employees buckling under an ‘always on’ culture that prevents them from properly switching off and working outside of their contracted hours, whilst ill, or even whilst on holiday.
Despite mental health being talked about much more openly in today’s society, the ‘Mental Health at Work’ campaign has found that half of UK workers have experienced a mental health problem in their current job, and only 48% of those have talked to their employer about it. This research shows there is clearly still a lot of work to be done to break down barriers in the workplace.
With the NHS at breaking point, it’s never been more crucial for businesses in the UK to take greater responsibility for their employees’ mental and physical health, as 12.5 million working days are lost each year due to mental health issues.*
Our survey also revealed that 63% of respondents would use wellbeing services if their employer provided them – an encouraging figure that highlights the potential of this kind of work.
The nuances of mental health and its impact on employees at an individual level can make it difficult to manage and to understand, but its contribution to good wellbeing in and outside of work is vital. Workplaces must make prioritising it top of their agenda. ‘Mental Health at Work’ is a progressive and essential initiative that should make a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the nation.
What can workplaces do?
It’s important to recognise the scale of the problem and act now, or risk employees continuing to suffer in silence. Whilst this is a widespread issue, it isn’t one that can’t be solved. It needs to start from the top, with employers engraining an open and honest culture in the workplace. There needs to be a greater focus on the responsibility of line managers to be approachable and understand their peers’ strengths and weaknesses.
With one in three employers not knowing where to look for guidance on mental health issues, we believe that in giving businesses the right support, we can make a real difference.
From Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, the equivalent of a physical first aider at work for mental health, to mental resilience training, get in touch to see how we can support you.
Take a look at the fantastic resources available for free from Mental Health at Work to get started.
*Source: Health and Safety Executive, 2017