Steve Bilton needs to talk about mental health.
It was once a taboo subject, swept under the carpet and denied by many, but over recent years mental health has received a much-needed increase in attention. And with it has come a change in perception for many.
It’s thought that one in four people suffers from poor mental health every year. Peace of mind in the workplace, whilst not exclusive, can be a major contributing factor to good mental health.
February saw the return of the annual Time to Talk Day, a day organised to highlight the importance of good mental health. Here are some top tips for a harmonious workplace, be it an office, factory, building site or somewhere else.
What is mental health?
Whilst many people will have heard the term, have a grasp on what it means and may even be able to identify some of the symptoms, what actually constitutes deterioration in mental health can be hard to define.
Put simply, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It covers everything from how we feel to how we think and act. It also effects how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.
Better mental health means better productivity
People who feel happier in their employment create a happy work environment. They are likely to be more productive, interact better with colleagues and make more of an all round contribution.
As ever, prevention is better than the cure, so take steps to reduce the risk of poor mental health amongst employees.
A recent study found that over a third of sufferers are likely to get in to conflict with others, more that half find it difficult to multi-task, 80% struggle to concentrate and one in two has the potential to be less patient with customers.
How to promote wellness
Dealing with mental health can be a very delicate procedure for employers. As ever, prevention is better than the cure, so take steps to reduce the risk of poor mental health amongst employees. You should set out a step-by-step system to develop a harmonious workplace.
Educate staff, particularly managers, on how to spot and deal with the early signs. Make sure they know how to refer potential cases for expert care.
Make reasonable adjustments
The Equality Act stipulates that you need to make reasonable adjustments for those suffering from mental health issues. This could be in the form of flexible working policies to allow employees to commute outside of rush hour, being allowed time off to receive treatment, re-allocation of tasks, changes to your working area and allowing for home working.
Appoint an employee champion
Time to Change, the charity responsible for Time to Talk Day, suggest appointing an employee champion. These people act as the first point of contact for other employees that might be struggling with mental health issues. They are there to help break down stigmas that may exist and to build a fully supportive workforce, helping to guarantee employee safety.
Preserve your workforce
Research by Mind, a leading mental health charity, reported some startling facts. They found 14% of employees had resigned as a result of stress, rising to 42% when asked who had considered resigning as a result. Just less than a third felt they wouldn’t be able to talk openly about stress with their manager.
So, it’s clear that a lot of work is being done to remove the stigma that once existed around mental health. There’s a lot of support but it’s imperative that employers actively support this work too. In doing so, this benefits both employers and employees.
You can find out more about training sessions and all other information around the equality act here.
About the author
Steve Bilton is IT director of SHEilds.