Making mental health the hero

Creating a great employee experience means reviewing every aspect of the workplace, including how you support wellbeing and mental health

Oct 9, 2018 | Feature

Let’s start with the facts

million workdays...

 are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK. That’s a cost to employers of approximately £2.4 billion per year.

One in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem within the space of a year.

One in three sick notes’ handed out by GPs are for mental health problems.

In this reality, mental health needs to be put front and centre by organisations, regardless of their size. So what can you do?

Involve everyone

The mental health charity Time to Change created this video, which shows how difficult it can be to talk about mental health.

The idea of #asktwice is simple. Sometimes someone will say they’re fine when they’re not. Asking them once more gives them a real opportunity to open up.  

You can try to bring some of this ideology into the workplace by putting mental health on everyone’s radar. Mental health problems do not discriminate. Anyone from the CEO to a front-of-house employee can suffer. In fact, it’s estimated that one in six people in the past week have experienced a common mental health problem. 

Communications have a massive part to play here. Include a tip of the week in your newsletter, host a wellbeing month and stuff it full of awareness events. Weave mental health wellbeing into your communications, and it will start to be a part of your company culture.    

Build a support network

Companies can provide support in a variety of ways for employees who suffer with mental health problems. Employee Assistance Programmes, on-call GPs and anonymous helplines are all options.

However, if people don’t know where to go for help, chances are, they won’t ask for direction.

Line managers are the key to changing the mental health culture at your company. Yet less than half of employees say they would feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress. Resolving this should be a priority.

Mental Health First Aid is an educational course, helping managers to recognise and understand mental health problems. This will help line managers start the conversations, instead of leaving colleagues in the position of having to ask. You could create an online managers’ toolkit to support this too – equipping them for conversations, and knowing where to direct colleagues for help.

Invest in wellbeing

The reality is that people spend a large chunk of their time at work, and they need to feel looked after when they’re there. In fact, there’s a genuine business benefit to putting wellbeing first.

The Harvard Business Review found that positive wellbeing leads to a 31% increase in productivity, and sales increase by 37%. There are also reports of increased innovation and customer satisfaction linked to wellbeing.

Of course, there are different types of wellbeing to think about, such as financial and physical, and they all tie together. A good approach is combining them all, but mental health is a great place to start.

Making mental health wellbeing part of the employee experience means happier, healthier employees contributing to the success of your business.

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