How do you support employees with mental health issues?
Today (10th October) marks World Mental Health Day and the theme is mental health in the workplace.
The pressures of modern life are taking their toll on employees. It has been reported that the estimated number of workers receiving mental health treatment has increased by 53% over the last decade*, which is quite worrying.
However, it’s encouraging to see that the stigma associated with mental health issues are gradually being minimised as awareness around the subject seems to be increasing. With politicians, celebrities and even members of the Royal Family discussing the issue, there is no denying that mental health is something that shouldn’t be ignored.
When it comes to the workplace, there is no doubt that poor employee mental health can result in reduced productivity. In fact, employee absence is costing UK businesses more than £12.7 billion. One in five employers state that their average member of staff calls in sick for more than a week per year and 39% of these sick days are due to mental health issues*.
It’s paramount that employers not only provide adequate support to employees experiencing mental health problems but also put in place preventive measures as part of their wellbeing strategy. Here are some ideas that employers should consider:
• using awareness days to promote mental wellbeing;
• traditional employee assistance programme (EAP);
• trained mental health first aiders in their organisation;
• efficient two-way communication that promotes an open culture; and
• regular mental health training for managers; enabling them to recognise the early signs of mental health and put the right kind of support in place to help employees.
Recognition and early intervention are of the essence. With so much information and support out there for employers, I strongly believe they should be doing more to tackle mental health in the workplace. There are helpful materials available through organisations such as MIND, which can provide ideas on supporting mental wellbeing.
Our sister company, Secondsight, run a number of initiatives to aid employee wellbeing, including mental health first aid (MHFA) courses, which they run in conjunction with Mental Health First Aid UK.