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Emma Mamo: How workplaces can promote good mental health

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Workplaces across all sectors and sizes are beginning to acknowledge both the benefits of prioritising wellbeing at work, and the costs of neglecting it.

mental heallth survey

mental heallth survey

But, we still have a long way to go. Many employees struggling with stress or poor mental health don’t feel able to come forward to ask for help, and the results of LGC’s survey of senior council staff reflect our own of the general workforce. Mind recently surveyed almost 44,000 employees and found almost half had experienced poor mental health, such as stress, low mood, and anxiety, while working at their current organisation.

Worse still, recent data from Business in the Community in 2017 found 15% of people faced disciplinary action, demotion or even dismissal as a result of telling their employer about their mental health problem.

Changing an organisation’s culture doesn’t happen overnight, but senior leaders have a role in making this happen. We know when senior leaders and figures open up about their mental health it can encourage others to do the same and contribute to this culture change. We want senior leaders to create environments where staff of all levels feel able to talk openly about mental health and to know if they do, they’ll be met with support and understanding, rather than facing stigma and discrimination.

Forward-thinking employers understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce, including people whose mental health or other disability may have prevented them from working previously. Employers who seriously invest in workplace wellbeing, report having more engaged, productive and loyal employees, less likely to need time off sick.

What is encouraging is how many workplaces are seeking Mind’s expertise. In recognition of the positive steps being made by employers, Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, www.mind.org.uk/index, enables employers to celebrate the good work they’re doing to promote staff mental wellbeing and get the support they need to be able to do this even better, and encourage other organisations to follow suit.

Employers should see promoting good mental health as part of being a responsible employer, sending a message to staff they are valued and appreciated. Changing the negative culture around mental health and tackling the causes of stress and poor mental health at work will benefit all staff, whether they have a diagnosed mental health problem or not.

Those of us with mental health problems can and do make a valuable contribution to the workplace. Managers should ask staff how they can best support them. Things like, a change of workspace; return-to-work policies such as a phased return; changes to role (temporary or permanent); additional breaks; increased support from managers when prioritising and managing workload, and wellness action plans (WAPs) free to download from Mind’s website www.mind.org.uk/work, can all make a big difference.

Whatever your role in the organisation, if you’re struggling with stress or mental health problems at work, talk to a trusted friend, family member or colleague. Speak to your GP if you’re feeling irritable, down or struggling to sleep for more than two weeks, as you may be experiencing symptoms of a common mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.”

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing, Mind

 

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