Mental Health in the workplace, what it means to us?
Mental Health, rightly so has a much greater profile in society now, especially in the workplace. As a business, we continue to work with our team to not only raise awareness of the different issues but to also provide the right support to ensure that if anyone does start experiencing mental health problems they are cared for in the best way. There are some interesting statistics around mental health that paint an alarming picture:
- Statistics vary, but around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems
- 9 in 10 people who experience mental problems face stigma and discrimination, particularly in work, meaning many do not feel they can talk openly with their line managers.
- 95% of employees would prefer to call in sick with a made up reason, rather than reveal the truth about their mental health problems (Survey by Time to Change)
- There is a huge financial cost to employers in lost productivity, time off work and staff turnover
Mental Health covers a wide range of conditions and covers a wide range of problems that affect our mood, thinking and behavior. Some of these include:
- Common mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, OCD
- Severe mental health problems, such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorders, Depression, PTSD, Substance abuse disorders
All of these can have a serious impact on a person and need to be addressed, especially in the workplace.
The World Health Organisation define the term “mental wellbeing” as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to their community
There are a number of key indicators that can help spot signs of stress or poor mental health at an early stage.
Often the key is a change in typical behaviour. Symptoms will vary, as each person’s experience of poor mental health is different, but there are some potential indicators to look out for.
• Indigestion or upset stomach
• Appetite and weight changes
• Joint and back pain
• Changes in sleep patterns
• Visible tension or trembling
• Nervous, trembling speech
• Chest or throat pain
• Constantly feeling cold
• Anxiety and distress
• Feeling low
• Mood Changes
• Loss of motivation
• Loss of humour
• Increased sensitivity
• Distraction or confusion
• Difficulty relaxing
• Lapses in memory
• Illogical or irrational thought process
• Increased smoking and drinking
• Using recreational drugs
• Resigned attitude
• Irritability, anger or aggression
• Over-excitement or euphoria
• Lateness, leaving early or extended lunch
• Working for longer hours
• Intense, obsessive activity
• Repetitive speech or activity
• Inconsistent performance
• Uncharacteristic errors
• Increased sickness absence
• Apparent over-reaction to problems
• Uncharacteristic problems with colleagues
But most importantly we as people and as a business need to adjust to ensure that the mental health of all the team is cared for, protect the employees from the risk of stress associated with their work by assessing that risk and taking steps to control it. In some circumstances we need to make adjustments to help employees to stay in work and be supported while recovering from or managing a mental health condition. This can also help employees work safely and productively. Some ways the business can make reasonable adjustments for their team are;
- Flexible hours or change to start or finish times;
- Working from home at certain times or on certain days in a given period
- Changes to break times
- Temporary reallocation of some tasks or amendments to the employee’s job description or duties
- Increased support from manager on prioritising work load
- Encourage employee to do things that support good mental health such as exercise, meditation or eating healthy.
The important point for us was that everyone is different and the challenges everyone faces are different. We have established an environment where everyone is aware of the potential issues and all managers are given training to enable them to spot signs of mental health problems in their team, and feel confident to provide support and ways to navigate this. We also have a mental health first aider in the business meaning we can support all our team when they need it most.
To find out more about how we support our team from the day they join us contact our HR team.