This week is Mental Health Awareness week so I wanted to use this opportunity to speak about something close to my heart, and something I believe should be at the core of every business.
Mental health matters – and it should be a priority in the workplace.
I am becoming increasingly aware that we never have the full story of any individual. There may be a reason why a member of staff is always running late, or why another employee always has their ‘heads in the clouds’, or someone else has to take their time to do things.
Someone I know told me a story last week of a time where they used to judge an employee who was always sat down, doing things quite slowly, and supposedly working their own hours. This person later founder out that member of staff suffered from M.E and was actually doing the best she could with the health she had.
Like in that story, mental health is a difficult one because you often don’t see any physical symptoms, and can therefore be quick to judge without the full picture and all the details of what’s going on. And this is a problem, because mental health impacts so many in the UK.
The mental health charity Mind reports that approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, but that only one in eight adults with a mental health issue are currently receiving treatment.
Furthermore, according to the Mental Health Foundation, approximately 70 million work days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues in the workplace. Therefore, addressing mental health and wellbeing at your work should be at the top of any businesses agenda.
I mean, it goes without saying that a happy workforce is a more effective workforce. If your staff feel supported, and furthermore uplifted at work, then they are going to be better at their jobs, have more energy to reach company goals, and start thriving instead of surviving.
In fact, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found that health and wellbeing activity boosts engagement and morale, which creates a healthier and more inclusive culture, and lowers sickness absence.
Why not use this mental health awareness week to increase your awareness of the issue and come up with a health and happiness strategy for your business.
Look into what other firms do to enhance wellbeing. Engage in conversations with you employees to find out what can be done to make your workplace a positive environment. Have you been putting too much pressure on individuals? Are your staff working longer hours than contracted and spending a lot of time isolated from their families? Are you picking up on mistakes but failing to reward success?
More practically speaking, could you send your managers and directors on a course to recognise mental health issues in the workplace and learn how to deal with these? Line managers are vital in creating workplaces that are positive for people’s mental health, but they need to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to do this.
Whatever the solution for you and your company, let’s as an industry aim to be a positive place to work.