Managing and Supporting Mental Health at Work:
It’s Time to Talk
Time to Talk Day 2020 will be taking place on Thursday 6th February.
According to Time to Change, mental health problems affect one in four of us. However, many people feel ashamed to talk about this with a friend or partner, let alone their employer. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about their mental health. Choose talk, change lives.
Discussing your mental healthwith your employer can feel awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. At Busy Bees Benefits, we believe in workplaces where everyone can thrive. It is the role of business owners and employers to create happy, thriving workplace communities.
Why don’t people talk about mental health?
Mental health awareness is increasing, but many people with mental health problems face discrimination both in and outside of work. For this reason, employees are often scared to let their employer know about their mental health as they are afraid of being treated differently.
So, how can we manage and support mental health at work?
For many of us, work is a major part of our lives.
The Mental Health Foundation has found that the value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year. This figure represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.
It is therefore imperative that we protect this value by managing and supporting mental health at work.
Our Employee Benefits Specialist, Mark Miller states:
‘One of the key things for employers to consider when reviewing their approach to mental health is not to build their proposition around just looking to support employees when they start showing signs of suffering from mental health issues but instead to encourage maintaining good mental health, just like you would encourage maintaining good physical health through exercise, regular dental appointments etc.
So, look at ways of maintaining good mental health and not just dealing with helping employees back to good mental health when they are suffering.’
Often, businesses focus on those who are already suffering with their mental health. Although important and a subject that must be addressed in all workplaces, it is also essential that employers support their entire workforce in maintaining their existing and good mental health.
How can this be achieved?
Mental health services
The provision of employee benefits that make a positive difference to employee wellbeing and happiness such as employee assistance programmes can provide the right initial support through confidential counselling services and access to information when employees need it most.
Mark Berry, Employee Benefits Consultant says:
‘Where an Employee Assistance Programme is offered with access to a suite of self-help and knowledge building modules on a wide array of subjects, employees can explore topics that they may not feel comfortable discussing with a stranger but may just need some hints and tips to adjust their behaviours.
One example is an employee I spoke to who occasionally suffered from mild anxiety in office situations and had struggled in silence as they did not feel comfortable to talk about it openly. By working through a small anxiety programme in their EAP phone app, they picked up some coping mechanisms which has helped reduce the effects of their anxiety. Sometimes employees just need a small helping hand to make a big change to their everyday life.’
Financial wellbeing support
Other benefits such as financial wellbeing strategies also work to support employee mental health by reducing stresses from outside the workplace such as debt worries.
Support physical health
Regular exercise is proven to boost self-esteem and is key to maintaining mental health. By providing employee benefits which encourage and support physical health like Gym Discounts, you encourage employees to look after all aspects of their health.
Keep in touch
In creating a workspace where people can be themselves, it makes it significantly easier for people to speak about mental health concerns.
Alongside this, being transparent about the mental health services available to your workforce and providing wider health benefits can work to increase confidence in discussing all things health related. Prove to your workforce that you are supportive. If you yourself suffer with mental health problems, be open about how you feel at work. It might encourage your employees to do the same.
Supporting and managing mental health at work goes hand in hand with productivity of your workforce. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12% (Time to Talk, 2020).
David Pinner, Head of Consulting at Busy Bees Benefits states:
‘We can support employers with a number of tools to help nudge employees into making smart choices that are not just healthy for the body, but healthy for the mind.’
If you are worried that someone within your workplace may be experiencing feelings of isolation or depression, you should speak to them directly. Encourage the person to contact the Samaritans through their free 24-hour helpline on 116 123.