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Supporting Mental Health in the workplace
Mental health and wellbeing is still something that many people struggle to discuss in the workplace. It's time to break the stigma!
The last year has been a very uncertain time for all of us; especially when it comes to our working habits. Extended periods working from home – and in isolation – has put a huge toll on people’s mental health and levels of anxiety. Trying to perform to the best of our abilities while dealing with concern for our loved ones and worrying about the future is no easy task! There’s no doubt that there’s still a real taboo around openly discussing mental health at work, which begs the question – is enough being done to protect our employee’s mental health?
Earlier this year we conducted a poll on LinkedIn, asking our network what they anticipated to be their biggest HR challenge in 2021. While ‘remote hiring and onboarding’ was also a big concern, ‘supporting staff mental health’ received a clear majority of the votes. This is an incredibly encouraging result and demonstrates that employers understand the significance of the past year and their duty to their employees.
According to last year’s HSE report, in 2019/20 there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This is a big increase from 602,000 the year before. This dramatic rise is perhaps not entirely surprising in light of the pandemic, but also a key reason why Mental Health Awareness Week is more important this year than ever.
While it is perhaps more common for people to discuss their personal wellbeing at work than it was a few years ago, mental health is still something many people struggle to talk about. The sad truth is that the majority of those taking a sick day as a result of work related stress tend to give a different reason to their manager rather than discuss the real issue.
Prolonged isolation and minimal social contact have left many of us feeling vulnerable and anxious. However, now that we are faced with the prospect of returning to the office we’ve been away from for so long, this can be equally (if not more) daunting.
What can we do?
The great thing is that there’s loads that we can do! A very simple first step can be initiating the conversation about mental health in your workplace. Giving employees the support and resources they need to be able to discuss their wellbeing can make a huge difference.
More and more companies are beginning to invest in various mental health initiatives to encourage and empower employees to discuss their wellbeing and to combat anxiety and stress. For example, many companies now have a dedicated Mental Health Ambassador or First Aider available at work for staff to discuss issues or concerns. Simply by having someone available to talk to can remove the stigma and help those who felt unable to discuss their mental health to come forward.
It is also becoming more commonplace for businesses to offer a yearly allowance to employees to spend on their wellbeing and health generally – to put towards a gym membership, massages, therapy sessions or any other health related expense.
Ensuring that managers in your company undergo mental health training is also a fantastic step for raising awareness. Many managers identify being able to support their team with mental wellbeing as a core skill and welcome more support in this area. There are loads of great training courses out there specifically aimed at managing mental health at work – mind.org offer some brilliant support if you're not sure where to start!
Come and join the discussion on mental health!
We’re hosting a discussion on 19th May about how we can break the stigma around mental health in the workplace and support each other at work. If you’d like to join us, please register here.
If you can’t make it, let us know what sort of measures your company has in place to support mental wellbeing. Let’s start a conversation!
If you ever need help, always remember to talk to someone, even if you can’t at work. Checkpoint has a global list of resources for wherever you may be in the world.