According to a recent poll, only 14% of employees feel comfortable with talking about their mental health concerns at work, indicating a need for a cultural change at many companies to become more open and supportive when it comes to our psychological wellbeing.
Mental health is a significant problem in workplaces throughout the country. Government research in 2017 showed that 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, at a significantly higher rate than those with physical health conditions. Around 15% of workers have symptoms of an existing mental health condition. The annual cost to British employers is estimated to be between £33bn and £42bn, with a total nationwide economic cost of up to £99bn each year. This means that improving mental health is in everybody’s interest, including employers.
Managers feel unsupported, staff fear for their jobs
To be successful, employers must implement a mental health strategy at every level of their organisation. A recent survey revealed 60% of line managers think they aren’t getting enough help from their organisation to support their staff’s mental health, and only 31% said they were sufficiently trained to recognise the signs of mental ill health in colleagues. On the other hand, 80% of workers said they wouldn’t discuss poor mental health with their manager because of fears for their job security or career progression. This indicates a need to provide more training and support to managers whilst changing company culture and breaking down taboos, making it clear to staff that they’re able to open up without fear of damaging their careers.
Mental Health First Aid
One way in which many companies are providing support to staff and driving change within their organisations is through the concept of Mental Health First Aid. The goal of a Mental Health First Aid course is to raise awareness about mental health, reduce stigma around the subject, and give selected employees the knowledge and confidence to offer a helping hand if they believe a colleague is struggling with a mental health problem. Mental Health First Aiders are intended to be a first point of contact and assistance for their fellow employees, helping spot issues, offer support and direct their colleagues towards further help.
Mental Health First Aiders can also be a valuable resource to drive cultural change in an organisation, using their knowledge to suggest new initiatives and encourage openness in the workplace. Not everyone has to undertake a full Mental Health First Aider course to do this. We offer a one day Mental Health First Aid Champions course alongside our full 2 day course. This is particularly useful for line managers, who should be aware of mental health issues and empowered to drive change whilst recognising that people are more likely to turn to other colleagues for confidential support.
Book one of our Mental Health First Aid courses by 31/05/2019 and you’ll get 10% off as well as a free mental health awareness bundle.