Mental Health In The Workplace

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

I recently passed a certified course on Mental Health Awareness which focused heavily on how it should be implemented in the workplace. While a lot of it is of course general common sense, there was some interesting facts and ideas that I wanted to share with you, to ensure you're being treated right in your employment, and/or treating the staff right in your organisation.

The main thing that organisations should remember is that "everybody has mental health the same way everyone has physical health." Although deemed invisible, mental health issues affect 1 in every 4 people. A quarter of the entire population experience mental health issues, and 1-3 of every 100 people have severe mental illness'. The UK has one of the highest rates of self-harm, and 9/10 people with mental health issues feel they experience stigma and discrimination. 

People with good mental health are easily able to learn new things, feel and express emotions, form relationships, and cope with change and uncertainty, whereas people with bad mental health find normal activities highly stressful. No two people experience the same symptoms, therefore handling and/or treating mental health issues can seem scary and/or unattainable to some people. 

It's no secret that your job can bring pressures which have an adverse affect on your mental health, and according to the charity Mind, 1 in 5 people feel like they can't talk to their manager at work. Mind's research found that 56% of employers would like to do more to improve staff well-being, but struggle to know how to. The list below outlines the generalised triggers of mental health issues that can be caused at work:
  • Long hours and no/infrequent breaks
  • Unrealistic expectations or deadlines
  • Pressurised working environments
  • Unmanageable workloads of lack or control over work
  • Inability to use annual leave
  • A poor working environment
  • Lone working or high-risk work
  • Difficult relationships with colleagues
  • Poor internal communication
  • Poor managerial support
  • Job insecurity 

If you are experiencing mental health issues that is affecting your work, you should speak to your manager and/or HR department. Organisations are encouraged to have a Mental Health Representative who is a member of staff with a certified qualification and/or just a general interest in mental health that is available should you need to chat. There are no special skills needed to talk about mental health, just common sense, patience and empathy. Your manager has a responsibility to ensure that their team is happy and healthy in their place of work, and should your mental health problems be diagnosed as an illness/disability, legally - under the Equality Act 2010 - they need to put adjustments in place to help. 

Adjustment ideas your organisation can put in place:
  • Allow flexible working hours, or working from home
  • Changing the timing or frequency of breaks
  • Making changes to the layout of the workspace
  • Introducing quiet work areas
  • Agreeing to leave at short notice for appointments
  • Being more flexible about absence from work
  • Reallocating job tasks
  • Providing more feedback on work
  • Increasing the support and availability from managers
  • Providing extra training for staff
  • Encouraging a healthy life style

It is important for organisations to promote a healthy work/life balance, and this can include small things like ensuring managers have regular one-to-one's with their staff, or ensuring positive feedback is given where it's due. Your place of work should be carrying out regular/annual risk assessments that includes both physical and mental risks. 

Does your workplace provide mental health support? Have you encountered unfair discrimination due to your mental health? Would love to discuss further in the comments!

© Image Source: Pexels

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