Mental Health at work and why it should be a priority issue
Looking at the landscape of the increasing numbers of people experiencing mental health issues in the workplace, several things are clear:
1. Stress, anxiety and depression account for the highest percentage of working days lost due to illness.
2. The numbers are increasing.
3. Consideration by employers towards wellbeing at work can change things for the better.
4. Help is out there.
The numbers speak volumes
According to a report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)1 in late 2018, workload was the number one cause of anxiety, stress and/or depression in the workplace at 44%, while the other 56% was spilt across causes such as lack of managerial support, changes in the workplace and bullying.
According to the HSE report, those working in education, human care and social service activities, and public administration & defence have the highest rates of stress, anxiety and depression, with the education sector coming out at the top, reaching an approximate rate of around 2000 in every 100 thousand people experiencing mental health issues.
The numbers are rising
The rates of those living with stress and anxiety are increasing. Roles with limited resources due to higher government demands and/or cuts to their sector (such as education, public services and the NHS) are under tremendous amounts of pressure, leading to stress, anxiety and in many cases, long-term depression.
And it’s not simply a social issue. These numbers impact heavily on our economy. The report states that 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18. But wellbeing in the workplace is, by no stretch of the imagination, a lost cause.
For employers, there’s a responsibility to consider the wellbeing of the workforce as a number one priority when it comes to environment, productivity, morale and longevity. Taking an active approach to ensure that the mental health needs of staff are being met is the first step towards changing these statistics for the better. The key is to invest in a thoroughly considered wellbeing policy, whether that involves seminars for management, staff taking part in workshops around mental health in the workplace, and/or engaging with therapeutic and counselling services for ongoing support.
Encourage and Support!
Take care of each other. It sounds simple, right? But sometimes it’s not our priority. We all know that the working environment can present obstacles that put pressure on our mental health. Stressful situations are common, as well as overwhelming workloads and sometimes lack of support from colleagues and managers. But we’re all in it together. In the wider scope, even in the most demanding of roles, we are all human, and we are all doing what we can to live a happy, successful, fulfilling life. So, adopting a mindset of encouragement and support amongst the workforce could be essential when it comes to combatting stress and anxiety. It allows for increased managerial support towards staff, it could reduce the likelihood of bullying amongst the workforce, as well as have a positive, domino-effect on morale.
In the long-term, a strong policy for mental health in the workplace will see a decrease in days lost and an increase in both productivity and staff wellbeing. However, improving staff wellbeing is not just about productivity, it’s generally a decent thing to do.
The tools are out there – use them to your advantage
If you’d like to know more about how you can put your mental health policy into action, give Talk Works a call on 0191 490 9301.
We’re here to help.