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Friday, 12 May 2023 10:54

Normalising Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK has rolled around again and runs next week, 15th to 21st May. This year the theme is anxiety. Whilst attributing a theme and a specific week brings it to the fore and encourages conversations, we should recognise that Mental Health is with us all of the time and has become a factor that employers must take into consideration much more frequently than even just a few years ago.

Working days and productivity lost to poor mental health are significant, so it’s in employers’ best interests to maintain a mentally healthy and motivated team. Good working practices exemplified and encouraged by motivated and properly trained managers will maintain engaged and mentally healthy employees and promote your business as a good place to work.

Mental health issues can be complex, diverse and wide ranging. In addition to anxiety, commonly recognised conditions include stress and depression. We should remember however that severe and enduring mental illness can be life changing.

Whilst we often have to deal with employees who are suffering with poor mental health, work isn’t always the root cause. The cost of living crisis is high on the blame scale for a lot of issues currently, particularly anxiety, but death of a loved one, physical illness or a sudden event such as a serious accident or a partner’s job loss can all be triggers.

That said, we must recognise when factors at work are the source of mental health issues or exacerbate the external issues that are causing it. Even in good work environments, pressures such as tough schedules and tight deadlines can have a massive negative impact on someone’s feeling of wellbeing. Add bullying, harassment or toxic leadership into the mix and we have a recipe for a very unhealthy situation.

There also remains the fact that admitting to having mental issues remains shrouded with stigma and is seen as a weakness; especially amongst men. Historically, individuals have been unwilling to admit to being unable to cope or feeling stressed for fear of being judged or accused of being inadequate. Employers should try to create an environment where employees feel they can freely express their concerns, problems and feelings.

Taking steps to engender a buoyant and happy workplace will have long reaching and measurable benefits. Not only will productivity me maximised, but less days will be lost to absence. Furthermore, environments that offer support and where poor mental health is kept in check will thwart opportunities for less scrupulous employees to spuriously use it as an excuse for poor performance or behaviour.

Where it is appropriate, reasonable adjustments can be considered to enable those who are mentally unhealthy to remain in work and performing to the required standards. For longer term reasonable adjustments, consultation with an Occupational Health professional is advisable.

To promote an environment of positive wellbeing, more and more organisations are introducing mental health awareness training for managers and staff. Some are also introducing Mental Health First-aiders; employees within a business that other employees can approach in absolute confidence if they feel a mental health issue might arise.

Although not qualified in dealing with mental health issues per se, the first-aiders are trained to spot the early signs of mental health issues and can signpost individuals towards an appropriate course of action or mental health practitioner.

Our own two-day Mental Health First Aid training courses are regularly available and we provide in-house mental health awareness training for all staff as well as workshops for managers. So far this year our Mental Health - Skills for Managers course has been our most popular. It provides advice and guidance for managers to ensure that they:

  • create a mentally healthy team environment
  • understand the range of mental health conditions
  • have confidence to hold conversations with all team members to support their mental wellbeing.

We also have an area on our website dedicated to Mental Health and Wellbeing where you can find more information about our courses and other support services.
Alternatively, just call us on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  

Read 604 times Last modified on Friday, 12 May 2023 11:02

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