Cost of Poor Mental Health

Depressed woman at a mental hospital

The cost of poor mental health

Depressed woman at a mental hospital

What is the cost of poor mental health? More than you think. In the UK, businesses bear the cost when staff suffer, and no two employers have the same approach. The law around employee support states responsibility, but the structure this follows and the level of personalisation that it comes with differs from one business to another.

Every week we see new reports about the cost of poor mental health to employers across the UK of all sizes. And every week we also see first-hand the impact that vague policy has on the team member when they are struggling.

We work with businesses of all sizes around the world and have no doubt that positive attitudes to mental health that run through a business like a vein benefit everyone. From senior management to junior employees, and regardless of if you have a job for life, are new in post or on a temporary contract.

WHEN BUSINESS THRIVES

Businesses positively thrive when they take the wellbeing of their staff seriously. We’re in no doubt about that – and the data speaks for itself. In 2019, research from the Robert Walters Group found that 84% of employers believe that staff who feel their mental wellbeing is supported at work are less likely to leave and seek another employer.  

Many businesses support the Mental Health First Aid peer support infrastructure. When staff volunteer to take on an advocacy role it comes with the best intentions. But we’re finding this year that MHFA teams are unprepared for the situations they are facing, despite receiving the basic MHFA training. Our collective workforce was dealing with a mental health crisis. And then a global pandemic delivered a new set of problems.

WHO BEARS THE COST?

The bottom line is that businesses bear the brunt of the cost of poor mental health. But taking charge and building a robust mental wellbeing policy reduces this cost. And it is the first step to building a happier, healthier more productive workforce.

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Remote Working & Self Care

Remote Working & Self Care

Working from home is a challenge to self care – and what works is not the same for any two people in a department, or a family. My coaching sessions last week focused on what we can do to strike the right balance as we move into the final working weeks of the month. I am busy this week with the This Can Happen global mental health event (look out for my webinar on presenteeism tomorrow) so it’s a short blog post from me this week.

I hope you like it – you may have found it on my social media and my new Instagram account, but I like it so much I think it is worth a share here.

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Four signs of burnout

Four signs of burnout

Burnout isn’t uncommon. And even before the world took a collective adjustment and switched working patterns or places, research from 2019 showed that workplace burnout is on the rise again. Whether you’re a full-time employee or working on your own, the risks are there. And when you’re suffering…burnout can make even the most everyday tasks seem difficult and overwhelming.

Burnout as a phrase to describe poor mental wellbeing was first coined in 1974. It’s a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterised by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability. Other symptoms often come into play, such as increased anxiety and physical symptoms, such as headaches.

It can be hard to address issues around stress in the workplace as many signs and symptoms can relate to other things. And the term ‘rundown’, which often pops up during conversations about ‘burnout’, has become very commonly used. We may proclaim that all we need is a good night’s sleep. We can practice yoga and say that will fix us – but is it enough? When left unhindered, burnout can lead to or increase depression. And like many mental health issues, when something becomes more deep rooted, it’s harder to treat and recover from.

Here are five signs that you might be experiencing burnout, and a quick checklist of what to do.

ANXIETY

We all experience some level of anxiety from time to time, but individuals who develop burnout will find that feelings of anxiety become more pronounced and common. When you’re suffering burnout, work and tasks which normally would have been easy or second nature become difficult. Procrastination can prevail and persevering with a difficult task can result in an inability to focus. So, if you’ve found yourself struggling with newly onset anxiety or if work tasks are becoming particularly overwhelming, you might be experiencing burnout.

POOR SLEEP

A lack of sleep can lead to physical illness. Poor sleep may also place you in danger – such as when driving or operating machinery. And burnout doesn’t just affect your life at work, it can have rippling effects outside of the workplace. An inability to sleep and a feeling of fatigue throughout the day is an obvious but often overlooked symptom.

A broken night here and there is manageable to most of us, but when sleeplessness becomes the norm, it affects your ability to function in daily life. And this can be a serious concern for work and health. You’re far more likely to make mistakes and slow down productivity when you’re feeling exhausted, and this can make other symptoms of burnout even worse.

LACK OF PURPOSE

It’s okay to feel a lack of drive from time to time: no one is impervious to periods of creative block and a sense of aimlessness. But when these feelings move from being an occasional frustration to a daily struggle, the chances that serious burnout have taken hold have increased. Sometimes, this aimlessness is felt outside of work and a reluctance to commit to plans or look to far to the future are behaviours that colleagues or friends may recognise as burnout before you do.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

The stress headache only became a cliché because it’s been experienced by so many of us. As well as headaches, persistent stomach problems or an aching back may be a sign you’re close to overload. Physical symptoms are a warning, but they can be easy to dismiss or overlook.

If you’re experiencing chest pains or a racing heart rate, this might be the sign of something more serious. Recognising the physical symptoms of stress is tricky, because they may also signpost to more serious illness. We’re not qualified medical professionals and our blog isn’t the place for medical discussion. So, if these are symptoms you’re experiencing we recommend seeking medical advice.

It’s not always easy to recognise when stress is the reason you’re feeling or acting differently. And it can be even harder to seek help, especially if workplace pressure is part of the problem. But workplace stress is not a thing of the past. And the current situation of navigating a so-called new normal is compounding stress and seeing more people burning out. The signs are not hard to spot when you know what to look for. So, there is no better time to keep an eye on colleagues – and check in with ourselves.

For more information on how we work, visit here. And if you’re working in hospitality or a related business, I am working with Healthy Hospo to provide free 1:1 support. This is a completely free to access service, takes just a moment to register and 100% confidential.

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