Mental Health in the Workplace

In the UK, despite lots of recent exposure from the media and successful campaigns from charities such as Mind and Heads Together, discussions about mental health are still stigmatised and shrouded in shame. For those suffering from mental health issues, this creates problems in the workplace as they struggle to cope.

Work is a big part of our lives, and so it is important that we are able to be our best selves at work. This is not just good for the individual, but good for the employer too. Happier employees are more engaged and motivated, making them more productive and therefore valuable to the company. Furthermore, it reduces the time and money lost in employee sick days. Mental health related issues are the cause of a quarter of all sick days in the UK, as well as bring a major cause of long-term absence. Tackling mental health issues and having better mental health awareness is therefore beneficial to the individual, the team they work in and the company as a whole.

For those suffering from poor mental health, early support has been shown to be the most effective. For this to happen, it is important that everyone know how to spot the warning signs in both themselves and others. Signs of poor mental health include, but are not limited to:

To be able to better support those experiencing poor mental health, it is important that the topic of mental health is destigmatised and that we feel comfortable discussing it. If you are a manager, consider making mental health part of safety conversations. Hopefully by having open discussions and promoting positive mental health, employees will be more likely to reach out when they need support.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting someone/dealing with mental health issues. What resonates with one person may not help another. From my own experience, here are some tips on how to look after yourself:

Remember, a person’s mental health is not fixed; it rises and falls based on an individual’s personal situation as well as their physical health. Everyone will experience highs and lows, and this will affect a person’s ability to cope with stress, relate to others and the choices they make. It affects how we feel, think and act. It is therefore very important to look after our mental health and be able to have open and honest conversations about it.

If you are worried about your own, or someone else’s mental health, here are some resources:

Mind has a huge range of resources for topics both in and out of the workplace.

Alternatively, the UK based charity Samaritans answers anonymous emails on jo@samaritans.org. If you need immediate help, there is a confidential 24/7 UK helpline on 116 123.

 

Hanita Gill

May 2018