No matter where you work, your mental wellbeing is always paramount. The United Kingdom has recently opened up about this important but often overlooked subject.

Wellbeing at Work:

Employees are not speaking up about the mental health issues they’re facing. There are many reasons these workers don’t feel comfortable coming forward to their boss about their mental wellbeing.

According to HRNews, more than half (53%) of employees state that they have struggled with their mental wellbeing.

Most of us are not comfortable talking about mental health. Having an open discussion about it with your employer is an even more daunting task. What will they think of you? Will it put your job at risk? Will talking to them do anything to help the situation?

While four in five (80%) of workers who have struggled with their mental wellbeing have said, it impacts their work, as many as two thirds (67%) have never told an employer. Almost a quarter (23%) felt too embarrassed to tell their company they were struggling, a quarter (24%) kept quiet because they didn’t think their employer could help, and 19% thought it could jeopardize their career.

If mental health isn’t being taken care of, it can cause a wide array of issues in the workplace. It may not be manifested as a physical illness that you can see, but recognizing it and seeking treatment is very important.

The government department of health stated that a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development study highlighted the impact that mental ill-health can have on organizations. It found that:

  • 37% of suffers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues.
  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks.
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate.
  • 62% take longer to do assignments.
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients.

Despite the apparent impact that mental health issues have on employees and their work, a shockingly small amount of them come forward and ask for help. Steps must be taken to encourage open communication between employers and workers, and it can help ensure that employees feel comfortable coming forward when they’re struggling with issues that will ultimately impact their performance on the job.

Workplace Support:

The first step to improving mental wellbeing in the workplace is offering the necessary support to those who need it. Mental health days could become commonplace. At this time, very few employers offer mental health days as an option for their workers. A mental health day can benefit anyone who suffers from anxiety, depression, excess stress, or anything else that puts a daily strain on their mental wellbeing. These specially allocated days allow an employee to say that they aren’t up to the task of their work responsibilities and take the break they need to get back on track.

According to Employee Benefits, only 36% of employees that have experienced mental ill-health had taken time off for this in the last 12 months, although 54% of this group felt pressure to return to work before they were ready.

HRNews reveals, over a third of employees (35%) are not offered a single thing by their workplace to support their mental wellbeing. While managers have good intentions, half (49%) do not know how to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace. Worryingly, only two thirds (66%) of managers would know what to do if an employee directly told them that they were struggling with their mental wellbeing. However, 77% of managers recognise that businesses need more support and education around mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Every workforce is different, but they should all offer mental health support of some kind. That way, employees know it’s okay to seek the help they need when they’re struggling.

Management needs to talk to their employees. It’s essential to keep an open line of communication with employees so they know what they need, especially when it comes to mental health support.

A fifth (21%) of all respondents said they would like access to mental health days, but currently, only 5% do. Other initiatives that staff would value include flexible working (17%), monitoring of mental wellbeing via surveys (16%) and counselling, or an employee assistance program (EAP)(16%). Source

Overall Staff Wellbeing:

Employers in the UK have been taking an increasingly closer look at how their organizations handle employee wellbeing in the last few years. It’s essential to have happy, healthy employees if you want your business to run at it’s best.

In 2010 Mind (a mental health charity) began campaigning for mentally healthy workplaces, which means encouraging employers to take a proactive approach with their workers’ wellbeing.

Deloitte Solutions UK has also researched the importance of mental health in the workplace for everyone. In 2017 they released this report, which includes the following important information:

  • How vital mental health in the workplace is.
  • How changing the environment affects the workplace.
  • The challenges involved in changing both employer and employee attitudes are crucial concerning mental health.
  • Find solutions to current and future problems.

Implementing Change in the Workplace:

Finding a way to bring changes into a business, whether large or small, can be a challenge.

The most important thing to remember is that mental health issues can affect anyone, including employees and employers alike.

The most common types of mental health issues in the workplace are anxiety and depression. Both of these issues can be brought on and exasperated by work-related stresses.

In 2017, the government commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (chief executive of Mind) to independently review the role that employers can play to better support individuals with mental health issues in the workplace.

Their report, known as the “Thriving at work report”, highlights what they’ve called “Core Standards”, which is a framework of actions that all employers, both big and small, should put into place.

These “Core Standards” are specially designed to help employers improve the mental health of their work environment and give individuals with mental health problems, conditions in which they can thrive.

By using HSE Management Standards or something equivalent, employers can meet the core framework standards by:

  • Forming a mental health plan in the workplace.
  • Raising awareness and reducing the stigma by encouraging open conversations and communication.
  • Providing a mechanism for monitoring actions and outcomes.

HSE has outlined six key areas that, if not properly managed, can lead to poor health, lower productivity on the job, and an increased rate of sickness and accident-related absences.

  • Demands cover work environments, work patterns, and individuals’ workloads.
  • How much individuals say the workers have in how their work is completed.
  • Resources and encouragement need to be offered by the company, management, and colleagues.
  • Relationships include encouraging a positive work environment for everyone.
  • Make sure each person is fully aware of their responsibilities within their job description. When implemented correctly, this can help avoid conflict between employees.
  • Any change, large or small, will be explained to everyone and implemented in a structured manner.

Mental Health:

Stress and poor mental health tend to go hand in hand.

Stress from work can aggravate already existing mental health issues. Anxiety and depression are the two most common conditions related to stress. Stress at work can also lead to a drop-in job performance, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, or the opposite, which would be stress eating.

Employers can and should work together with their employees to create an open and honest way of communicating and creating an environment that is most conducive to happy and productive workers.

Life has become more complicated and stressful for everyone. Keeping up with family, financial, and work-related responsibilities can be overwhelming.

Reliable mental health programs and initiatives being brought into the workplace are more important now than ever. Being able to be open and honest with your employer about your needs as an employee is vital to being mentally healthy.

Ensuring that your employees can stay physically and mentally healthy is the key to having a thriving business.

Employees should be comfortable talking to a Human Resource officer. This person should have training in recognising the signs that an employee is struggling with something and needs help.

Ensure that your employees know they can speak with someone within the company openly and honestly without fear of repercussions. Let them know that the company is willing to work with them, not against them in improving their mental health.