Around 1 in 6 workers experience common mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Research carried out by the mental health charity, MIND, shows that work is the biggest cause of stress in peoples lives, more so than debt or financial problems.
Startlingly, around 300,000 people lose their jobs ever year due to mental health problems.
Employers lose up to £42 billion a year and the UK economy loses up to £99 billion.
These numbers are staggering in themselves but for me the impact on the individuals, their families and their friends are much more significant.
Whilst I find myself advising employers on how to handle all types of absence, increasingly absence associated with mental health issues is high on clients FAQs and request for assistance.
What can we do about it?
In 2017, Theresa May commissioned a review, which was carried out by Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, known as “Thriving at Work”. It looked at how employers can improve support for all employees, particularly those with poor mental health or wellbeing, and how they can be encouraged and supported at work. The report revealed that the mental health challenge at work is much more significant than first thought; it makes for some challenging reading.
However, there are positive recommendations and encouraging case studies including employers who:
- equip employees and managers to talk about mental health;
- upskill staff with the tools and confidence to understand and look after their own mental health and that of their colleagues;
- tried to prevent mental health conditions worsening;
- gave information to access timely help to reduce sickness absence caused by mental health.
The report made six recommendations know as ‘mental health core standards’ which are:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
- Develop mental health awareness amongst employees
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
- Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
- Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing
All these standards could be incorporated into an overall health and wellbeing strategy and policy to complement your existing employment policies and strategies. It starts with you, and a commitment to be more aware of mental health in your workplace. I’d be happy to discuss this with you and share with you the help that is available to encourage employers to acknowledge and embrace mental health, and all aspects of health and wellbeing, in the workplace.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org further information.