Why Mental Health Matters In The Workplace
When mental ill health affects your people, it affects your business. It reduces productivity and is a major cause of employee absence. Good employers know that it pays to look after their staff, but mental health is a stigmatised subject and rarely dealt with strategically.
It’s time to change
Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health stigma campaign, reviewed 46 employers, surveyed 15,000 employees, and conducted 400 hours of in depth interviews. Here’s six pieces of advice that came out of the research:
1. Mental health is a business decision.
Senior leaders, CEOs, MDs, it’s YOUR responsibility to get your business head around this, tackle the stigma and help your teams exceed their potential at work.
2. Mental health is normal. Let’s talk about it.
One in four people experience mental health problems. Stress, anxiety, depression, … It’s as common as a cold. We need to talk about its effects at work and face the fact that it’s the most common cause of employee absence alongside physical injury.
3. Treat it like a physical injury.
“I have a bad cold.” Don’t come in – rest. We’ll record it with HR, cover your work, and hand it back when you’re better. If only we could treat a panic attack or a stress episode like that.
4. Share experiences.
Other people have this? Plenty. Get people talking about depression and other mental health problems through support groups, forums, buddy systems, or train people as mental health ‘first aid’ champions.
5. Train managers to talk.
Don’t turn managers into therapists, but DO remind them of their responsibilities. Manager training was recommended in 45 out of 46 reviews we did.
6. Employees are responsible too.
If you’re burning the candle at three ends and bottling up the fact that you’re struggling to cope, you’ll burnout. Look after yourself. Speak up if you’re ill.
Tom Oxley co-wrote Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces for Time to Change.