Mental Health Awareness week has just passed, landing on 8th May to the 14th but it’s important to ensure that instead of just a week, that everyone thinks of mental health in the workplace year round.
It’s easy to give it some thought for the week of awareness but letting the awareness drift off after that will only worsen the situation for the thousands of people suffering from mental health yearly.
Praxis42 take a look at some problems that people are going through and ways employers can help.
Mental Health Issues
Mental Health can encompass many issues and sometimes a lot of employers skim over these issues or just outright ignore them. This can have serious effects on the individual, other employees and the productivity of the office.
According to a report conducted by the government’s most senior adviser on health, “Seventy million workdays are lost each year due to stress, depression and other mental health conditions, costing Britain £70-100bn annually, equivalent to 4.5% of the nation’s GDP”
Stress and Depression are very common among people in today’s working environment, often lasting for long periods of time if help isn’t sought. Both can result in the employee being less productive and less reliable than usual. It’s important as an employer or supervisor to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary and to speak to the employee if you suspect something is bothering them. Other points to look out for would be lack of cooperation, absenteeism, complaints of aches and pains and frequent statements of being tired all the time.
The workplace could be making the matter worse, as the person struggles to adapt to work life while dealing with a mental health problem. Ever gone into work when you’ve had a big night the weekend before and you’re still fighting it? Imagine you have to deal with a mental health issue every day you enter work while balancing the urge to hide it. It’s unsustainable and after a short while it can have negative effects.
As a supervisor or employer with several people working under you, it’s your job to create an environment where people feel safe to speak to you about potential problems that's affecting them. Your job isn’t to instill fear into your employees, it’s to listen and help them to the best of your abilities.
A good way of approaching this is to conduct monthly 1-2-1s, giving you a chance to review employee progression, their work and the future. It’s also an opportunity for the employee to bring up anything that’s bothering them in a safe, secure environment. Many people are hesitant to bring up mental health issues out of fear of colleagues treating them differently or company gossip. This can further extrenuate problems especially with mental health problems such as depression.
Educate you and your staff to spot the potential problems by purchasing ELearning courses based around mental health in the workplace. Easy to complete wherever is best for you, it provides an online course, enabling you to to lose out on work productivity by avoiding day out courses. For as cheap as £30 per course it’s a great way to bestow vital knowledge into your workforce to create a healthy and safe working environment.
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