We are familiar with hearing that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007) and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week (Adult psychiatric morbidity survey, 2014). With these figures in mind, no wonder employers increasingly appreciate the importance of having Wellbeing on their agenda.
We all have mental health just as we all have physical health and just as we can become physically unwell, we can also become mentally unwell. I have seen a real shift in how employers think and talk about this topic. Ten years ago, employers regularly approached me for advice about how to fix a workplace situation that they had dealt with badly, but over the last few
It is interesting to note that 35% of employees perceive that having a mental health condition could hamper their chances of career progression (Stevenson, Farmer Review of Mental Health and Employers 2017).
It seems to me that although employers appear to be open to doing more to offer support, there is a potential barrier in employees seeking this support due to fear of the negative impact it could have on their career. This got me thinking about what we can do to improve the perception that people have about poor workplace attitudes to mental health.
Communication is key, but many managers that I meet are worried about how to respond to colleagues experiencing mental ill health. They tell me: “I don’t know what to say” and “I don’t want to say the wrong thing or make things worse” they often ask me “What should I do?” and “What am I allowed to say?” The risk with this anxious approach is that the fear of saying the wrong thing may mean that the manager says nothing and therefore loses the chance to connect with the member of staff, build trust and crucially miss the opportunity to signpost the employee to get appropriate support at an early stage.
So, what steps can we take to improve trust and change attitudes?
- Encourage people to talk. There are a variety of dates that you can use as a platform to promote this such as; Stress Awareness Month (April), Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), World Mental Health Day (10 October) and Time to Talk Day (February)
- Train line managers appropriately so that they have confidence in their approach
- Consider training mental health first aiders at work, just as you have physical first aiders
- Provide a healthy workplace. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) say that promoting a culture that improves the health and wellbeing of employees is good management and leads to healthy and productive workplaces.
- Manage sickness absence effectively and be mindful of presenteeism
- More of the same. It is important to remind people of the support you already have in place
There is no one size fits all with mental ill health. It can strike at any time, can affect people from all walks of life and recovery comes in all shapes and sizes.
Quite often we start to talk about it when someone is signed off work sick, but there are some real steps that we can take to be more proactive at work. It’s important to let people know that it’s ok not to be ok, it doesn’t mean that you are weak and it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great career with positive working relationships. We spend an awful lot of time at work and so we should not underestimate the positive impact that we can have by taking steps to change the negative perceptions people may associate with mental ill health.
Author: Lisa Ellis, Oakridge Senior Mental Health Consultant
Dates for the diary:
We highlight some opportunities for you to learn more by attending some of our Oakridge events on Mental Health Awareness, as well as national and global stress and mental health awareness events.
Encourage people to talk.
(Time to Talk Day – 7 February 2019)
Stress Awareness Month – April 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week – 13 – 19 May 2019.
World Mental Health Day – 10 October 2019
Train line managers appropriately so that they have confidence in their approach
Free 2 hour Oakridge Taster session (16 or 17 May 2019)
Consider training mental health first aiders at work, just as you have physical
Oakridge HPSTT 26th April 2019 – Showcasing Mental Health First Aid training with a case study & guest speaker. Free of charge, by invitation only to those in a senior role.
We will be communicating our campaign for HPSTT regarding Mental Health First Aiders during April which will include a Taster Session for you to attend.
Provide a healthy workplace. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) say that promoting a culture that improves the health and wellbeing of employees is good management and leads to healthy and productive workplaces www.nice.org.uk
Manage sickness absence effectively and be mindful of presenteeism (FULLY
Partner event with Elcons HR Employment Law Consultants 14 March 2019 – Oakridge are Guest Speakers. (Please note this event is fully booked)
The event topic is Managing Absenteeism including long term absence and mental health.
More of the same. It is important to remind people of the support you already have in place.