Why employers need to address mental health in the workplace
Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Our mental health, much like our physical health, can go up and down a spectrum from good to poor. Mental ill health can range from feeling 'a bit down' to common disorders such as anxiety and depression and, in some cases, to severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Our mental health can affect the way we think, feel and even act; as well as determine how we might handle situations, relate to others and make choices. For this reason, it is very important that everyone takes time to look after their mental health.
As we spend so much time at work, our work environments and culture can have a knock on effect on a person’s wellbeing.
- According to mental health charity Mind, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress; and around 15% of people at work have an existing mental health condition. Also the annual cost of poor mental health to employers is between £33 billion and £44 billion.
- The Mental Health Foundation reported that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
- Research from Business in the Community revealed 76% of line managers believe they are responsible for employee wellbeing, but only 22% have received training.
- Business in the Community also found that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10%.
- Additionally, a poll by Mind identified that 60% of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.
- Findings from the Mental Health Foundation further indicated better mental health support in the workplace can save businesses up to £8 billion per year.
Overall, research consistently shows when employees feel valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, and in turn, are more committed to their organisation and will perform better. Organisations generally have increased success, if their staff are healthy, motivated and focused.
Needless to say, both employees and employers benefit from mental health and wellbeing being addressed in the workplace. So the support from employers is key.
Addressing mental health in the workplace
Mind has developed resources that outline a three-pronged approach to help employers manage mental health in the workplace by:
- promoting wellbeing for all staff
- tackling the causes of work related mental health problems
- supporting staff who are experiencing mental health problems.
How to promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems.
How to support staff who are experiencing a mental health problem.
- Mind is a leading mental health charity. It provides information and support on how to improve mental health, including a section on wellbeing in the workplace. Also check out the Mind endorsed Five Ways to Wellbeing. They outline five ways everyone, no matter a person’s age or situation, can ensure they are looking after themselves mentally.
- Access to work can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs for individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions, who are already in work or about to start.
- Business in the Community is a network that provides toolkits to help employers support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
- NHS Choices has a website that offers information and practical advice for anyone experiencing mental ill health.
- Remploy offers a free and confidential workplace mental health support service for anyone absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in, or return to, their role.
- Rethink Mental Illness is a voluntary sector provider of mental health services offering support groups, advice and information on mental health and problems.
- Acas provide information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.
- Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems.