Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. This is an annual campaign by the World Federation for Mental Health on the 10th October that aims to bring awareness to and focus on what needs to be done to eradicate the social stigma related to mental health conditions.
According to research by the charity Mind at least one in four people in the UK experience mental health problems every year.
They have also uncovered that stress in the workplace has lead more than one in five people to call in sick, 42% to consider resigning and 14% to actually quit their job. 30% of staff surveyed also felt they would not be able to talk openly with their line manager about feeling stressed and 56% of employers said they’d like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but didn’t know how to go about this. In addition to these figures, the social movement Time to Change has reported that mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing a shocking average of £1,035 per employee per year.
With all this data suggesting that mental health not only negatively affects individuals but also organisations as a whole, it is time to change the discourse surrounding our mental health in the workplace.
Last week NHS England committed funding to give every GP in the country access to a confidential and ‘non-stigmatising’ service for help with issues such as anxiety, depression or addiction. This is a positive sign of changing attitudes towards mental health problems in the workplace and is a step in the right direction for the NHS. It clearly signals a growing need for non-judgemental help in the workplace for employees.
However, looking at the statistics this need is also clearly felt by not only the wider NHS staff and but also across most other professions, indicating that more needs to be done across organisations in the UK and not just for a targeted few.
So what can be done by organisations to help their own staff? One of the most important aspects is to make sure there is an environment where staff know they are able to talk honestly and openly about their issues, especially to their line manager or HR. Open communication and support is vital in tackling the stigma surrounding mental health.
For additional help, Mind has an online service designed specifically to target Mental Health in the Workplace. On this site you can access resources and materials designed to help employers create a supportive and productive working environment for their staff, including webinars, their Workplace Wellbeing Index, training and much more.