It’s Time to Open Up About Mental Health at Work.
We know that mental health issues affect a huge number of people. In fact, almost one in five of all working-age people are affected by a mental health condition, including anxiety and depression, so this is something we simply can’t ignore. Chances are someone you know, work with, or even you, will be affected by a mental health condition at some point in your life.
So we’ve got to have an honest discussion about the reality of having a mental health condition at work, so both employers and employees feel empowered to speak up and get the support they need.
That’s why last week, the Prime Minister announced a range of measures aiming to address the subject of mental health. We’re working with leading figures in mental health including Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, to form a new partnership with employers to improve support in the workplace. This will review how best to support those affected by mental health conditions and promote best practice, as well as offer tools to organisations, whatever size they are, to assist with employee well-being and mental health.
We’re currently spending more than ever before on mental health, but employers like you can also play your part in tackling this issue and ensure that it’s not an obstacle for either your employees or your company to succeed and thrive.
One of the biggest challenges many employers face is creating an environment where people feel like they can speak up. Some employers have already had success doing this, including Barclay’s through their “This is Me” campaign. The initiative addresses the hesitancy some people feel to broach the subject of mental health, and was driven and designed by employees with personal experience of managing their own mental health and wellness.
The campaign put in place practical solutions to the problem, for example training managers on how to talk about mental health with their teams. Staff also made a commitment to break the stigma around the issue by signing charity Mind’s “Time to Change pledge”. “This is Me” has proved very successful and has now evolved to “This is Me in the City”, with more than 70 London-based organisations launching similar campaigns.
This is a fantastic initiative and I hope it inspires other workplaces to address the mental health needs of their teams in this way. Ensuring the mental wellbeing of all of us is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense too. In 2015 alone, 18 million working days were lost to sickness absence caused by mental health conditions and in 2010, the estimated cost of all sickness absence to employers was £9bn.
By working collaboratively with your employees on mental health, your business can improve engagement and retention of staff, leading to greater performance and productivity.
We want to hear from you in our Work and Health consultation. The online consultation is open until 17th February. Click here for more information on the consultation
If you are a small or medium employer and would like to attend a round table consultation event, you are warmly invited to register for the following events:
There’s clearly more to do, but our recent announcement marks a turning point in our society’s approach to addressing mental health and how it affects individuals, including at work. Because unless we enable everyone in our workforce to reach their full potential, our economy never will.
Please contact the facilitators for further information or to book attendance.