Mental Health In The Workplace

Mynurva’s recent study revealed that 49% of UK employees feel uncomfortable opening up about their mental health at work. Furthermore, 54% of UK employees admitted that their workplace could do more to offer structured support to those who suffer.

Although awareness of mental health issues has improved considerably within the last few years, the underlining stigmas attached to them are still undeniably present.

For those full-time workers suffering from symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, the negative stigma surrounding mental health can make it incredibly difficult for sufferers to seek help for their conditions.” Said Dr Zain Sikafi, CEO of Mynurva.

Finding the time to attend medical appointments is also a recognised issue amongst employees. Over 40% claim to have missed at least one appointment due to work commitments. This rose to over 60% for those living in London.

Issues with privacy remain at the forefront of reasons why employees choose not to speak out. 58% worry their issues would not remain confidential should they discuss them with a colleague or manager. They fear this could have a negative impact on their workplace relationships.

How Can You Support Staff Experiencing A Mental Health Problem?

Mental health charity, Mind, suggest that a good place to start would be to explain that mental health will be considered in the same way as physical health. Regular 1 to 1 meetings are also a great way to build trust and encourage employees to be honest.

According to Westfield Health’s Wellbeing Index, a staggering 40% of workers said that although they took time off due to mental health problems, they gave their employer a different reason for their absence.

In order to remove this stigma, companies will need to reassure staff that their reason for leave is accepted and supported. Maintaining regular communication with the employee and ensuring that they are informed about any new developments at work are great ways to prove that they are still considered a viable member of the team.

Those who receive adequate support during their leave are often likely to return to work faster that those who don’t. A lack of communication can leave employees feeling alienated from the company. This can cause further issues and extend the length of leave.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, employees may wish to keep the reason for their absence confidential. Discussing what they would and would not like to be shared with their colleagues is essential.

Other ways to support staff include:

  • Offering extra training
  • Giving constructive feedback
  • Holding debriefing sessions after a challenging day
  • Encouraging staff to speak out about which workplace factors affect their mental state
  • Reflecting on positive achievements

Employers have a duty of care for their employees; watching out for changes in the mood, output, behaviour, and eating habits of staff are all imperative factors to any managerial role.

“The research shows the need for a fresh approach to mental health and I encourage employers to review the current systems they have in place to support the wellbeing of their staff.” Says Shikafi.

Overall, 34% of workers felt that their mental health issues have worsened in the past year. This is perhaps due to a lack of workplace support. If all companies implemented just a few of the changes above, this figure could drop dramatically.

If you are currently unsure about how to support your staff with mental health issues, our expert HR team can assist you. Please get in touch or call directly on +44 (0) 2381590059.