Mental health at work has, rather suddenly, become a huge concern for employers, but why should employers be rushing to address the issue? This article explores mental health at work, including stats, challenges and solutions.
What is Mental health?
Anyone from an older generation may be prejudiced by thinking that mental health means, or carries the same stigma as it did a couple of decades ago.
According to the World Health Organization, Mental Health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Today, the challenge faced with mental health is that an increasing number of people are struggling to cope with stresses and find it difficult to work productively and fruitfully. Stellar Speakers post covid report highlights the issue…
The wellness sector report shows that 46% of respondents say their mental health is worst now than it was before covid. The report breaks down the contributory factors impacting mental health as:
When you look at what contributes to mental health, it could be argued that most of the factors are not work-related. In fact, according to Mental Health.org just 14.7% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Which begs a question…
If most causes of mental health are outside of work, and just 14.7% of people experience mental health problems at work, why are many employers rushing to develop schemes that support mental health at work?
Why the rush to support good mental health in the workplace?
It could be argued that some employers simply care enough about their people to support them with their mental health. For example, leaders in an SME may choose to help people with their mental health, simply because it’s the right thing to do when you recognise that people have so few, quality resources to turn to.
For other organisations, it could be argued that poor mental health at work affects performance and therefore profitability. In this example, a corporate may choose to begin an initiative to help.
Ironically, however, when asked about mental health initiatives HR directors said the biggest obstacle to promoting good mental health initiatives is, “buy-in”. Meaning, employees make deadlines and other priorities more important than their mental health!
Handling the issue sensitively
Buy-in may be low because, even today, there is still something of a stigma attached to mental health. In order for mental health initiatives to work, more needs to be done in the workplace to remove the stigma.
According to research by the Priory Group 71% of people worry about telling their employer if they had a mental health condition, for fear of getting a negative response.
Also, how Mental health is dealt with in the workplace is key to initiatives working. We recommend bringing in experts who can handle mental health in a sensitive way. We recently heard of a £3 billion organisation where a mental health initiative was so poorly put delivered by their L&D, that at least one member of staff is worse off for attending.
Clearly, employers who care enough to instigate mental health initiatives need to ensure the stigma related to mental health is removed. They also need to ensure that the initiatives are implemented with care.
How to handle mental health at work
We need to remember that people struggling with stress may also be the ones taking on more tasks and projects than is good for them. Others may not be the most confident or forthcoming when it comes to speaking up and admitting they are drowning. Similarly, others may mask depression with jokes.
With this in mind, initiatives need to start at the top. If you are going to encourage buy-in, and openness, directors and senior management should be involved at the outset and show leadership. An organisation that puts together an HR-led initiative with little or no leadership support may end up giving little more than lip service, with little buy-in from employees and perpetuate a culture of leadership not showing real care.
Directors and senior management set the culture. They need to understand their own mental health situation and consider their impact on their teams. For example, there is little point in talking about stress reduction, only to simultaneously launch another project or initiative that pressures employees.
A senior leader being open and vulnerable, and acting as a role model regarding mental health will encourage others throughout the organisation to open up.
Bringing in an outside presenter on mental health to the next company conference or team meeting will then heighten awareness, broaden perspectives and continue the conversation. Workshops and further trainings, along with support will then get greater buy-in and greater results, strengthening the organisation by protecting the people within it.
Start your mental health initiative with Stellar Speakers
If you want to start your mental health initiative off well we suggest considering the following experts on the topic.
As Co-founder of the RealSelfLove Movement, Andrea Pennington speaks globally to reduce the stigma of mental illness and to support people on their journey to authentic living. Andrea is also the creator of the 5-Step Attunement Meditation Process, designed to lower stress and boost resilience.
Janey Lee Grace is best known for her appearances on BBC Radio 2’s ‘Steve Wright in the Afternoon.’ A Holistic Life Coach, Broadcaster & Author she is passionate about all things holistic and one of the UK’s leading ambassadors for healthy living.
Through her books and her keynotes, Penny Power O.B.E. boldly opens up about the trials of her own life following the boom-and-bust pressure of a tech start-up that had a community of 650,000+ people.
We believe all keynote speakers should be Stellar Speakers – able to entertain, connect with an audience and make a positive impact. As a unique speaker agency representing change-making keynote speakers, we provide expertise to help you manage your budgetary expectations and provide realistic options. We provide a preferred partner’s service base, so that partner clients get everything they need, lowering your risk as a booker of speakers, so you can make your choice about your next speaker with confidence.