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Mental health at work

Added: 07 Jul 2022 15:50 - Workplace Health and Safety

Working conditions and environment can have a huge impact on mental health and well being, equally, someone's mental health can have a significant impact to perform well in their job. In 2020/21 there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This represents 2,480 per 100,000 workers. In 2020/21 work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work- related ill health.

With an ever expanding awareness of the impact mental health and wellbeing has in the work place, business owners and managers are seeking to educate themselves in the role they can play with regards to the mental health of their employees. Creating a healthy culture surrounding mental health within the work place is proven to have a huge positive impact on not only the workforce, but the business and its productivity as a whole. Knowing what to look out for and how to best equip themselves to support individuals that may need it is a great tool for all staff members. If people feel they can talk openly and in a trusted non judgemental environment about their concerns, problems are less likely to build and cause disruption.

As an employer it is your duty to:

  • Treat mental and physical health as equally important
  • Make sure all employees have regular one to ones with their managers, to talk about any problems they’re having
  • encourage positive mental health, for example arranging mental health awareness training for employees which you can find here (Link to course page)
  • Appointing mental health ‘champions’ who staff can talk to

The work force of larger companies will likely have access to private healthcare schemes, which can prove very helpful for an individual seeking psychological support, however smaller companies may not be able to provide such support, but listening and gentle suggestions could lead to someone getting the help they need, It is a good idea for those in more senior or leadership roles to be aware of what help is available to it’s employees, so as to be able to point them in the right direction should they need or ask for it. The right support can prove life changing for an individual. Learning what signs to look out for and how to approach someone struggling is a powerful skill to be equipped with.

Managers and leaders should be:

  • Approachable, available and encourage staff to talk to them if they are having problems
  • Able to tailor their management style to suit the needs of each staff member
  • Monitoring staff workloads, setting realistic targets and be clear about priorities
  • Having regular one-to-ones and catch-ups to check on how work is going, identifying upcoming challenges and what support may be required.

Additionally a manager should have the confidence and knowledge to manage any mental health matters. They should:

  • Be able to recognise some of the common signs and symptoms of mental ill health.
  • Know when and how to intervene
  • Know what additional support is available for them and the employee within the organisation.

For those seeking to educate themselves in mental health in the work place, First health and safety’s ‘Mental health and wellbeing interactive’ course is a useful tool for not only supporting those around you, but also gives you a guide to looking after your own wellbeing whilst being at work.

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