Mental Health Awareness Week: Improving mental health at work

16th May 2019

Here in the UK we are in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week. In an ideal world, we would all be able to focus on our mental health all day every day, but life is busy and our obligations with family, friends, hobbies and of course, work, get in the way.

It is therefore important that we find ways to prioritise our own mental health and the mental health of those around us in day to day life, regardless of where we are or what we are doing. This is especially important at work, as statistics show that almost 15% of people experience mental health in the workplace. In fact, “evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions”.

Poor mental health is not just impacting individuals; in 2017 “staff turnover, sickness and lost productivity resulting from poor mental health cost UK employers £42bn”. That’s over £1,000 for every single employee in the UK! So there’s not just an incentive from an employee wellbeing perspective for companies to do more; there is also a strong financial reason.

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, here are some ways you can promote mental health in your workplace:

  1. Talk openly about mental health. Statistics show that “95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason”. The first step to improving mental health is to destigmatise it, especially at work where people want to be professional, and may worry that admitting to stress and anxiety will compromise that. Make developing a culture of being open about mental health a priority in your organisation.
  2. Keep morale high. Spending every working day doing nothing but working is not going to do any favours for your employees’ mental health. You can facilitate good mental health in the process by offering opportunities for everyone to blow off steam and bond both inside and outside of working hours. Team lunches, prizes, away days and incentive trips are all ways that you can raise morale and keep your staff happy. To learn more about the benefits of incentives for your staff check out this blog.
  3. Educate your staff about mental health. Training managers to spot signs of poor mental health in their teams is very important, as it means that if anyone begins to suffer there will be someone looking out for them from the get go. As well as spotting the signs, it is important to provide “them with the confidence to approach matters that concern them and helping them to support their team in the best way possible”. Acas has created a guide about how to support staff with poor mental health, but ideally your teams will undergo specialist training.
  4. Promote a healthy work/life balance. It may be tempting to squeeze as much work out of your employees as possible, but in the long run excessive productivity will be detrimental to your business rather than positive. Encouraging your staff to use their holiday allowance and to restrict their work to their working hours will support well-rounded individuals who are able to separate life and work, which in turn will promote good mental health.
  5. Introduce flexible working. The growing trend of flexible working is revolutionising the workplace and the workforce. It has many proven benefits, which you can read about in detail on our blog, one of which is reducing stress. Allowing your employees to plan their working days around childcare, doctors appointments and general life admin shows you trust them and that you value their personal lives as much as your value their skills. With flexible working comes the need for flexible systems to meet changing HR demands. Cloud-based solutions such as Amity Essentials allow you to manage your HR anytime, anywhere and on any device, making flexible working effortless and second nature.

The mental health charity Mind states that approximately one quarter of everyone in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year. In England alone 1 in 6 people report a mental health problem every week. With statistics like this it’s vitally important that we prioritise mental health inside and outside of the workplace, not just for Mental Health Awareness Week, but every week.