May 8th – 14th is Mental Health Awareness Week, and despite more and more people talking openly about mental health, sadly, it’s still a taboo subject – particularly in the workplace. Research suggests there’s a culture of fear and silence around mental health, and this is causing increasing numbers in absences, with more than 1 in 5 admitting to calling in sick to avoid workplace stress they have been under. Research from mental health charity, Mind, shows:
- 14 per cent agreed that they had resigned and 42 per cent had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them
- 30 per cent of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’
- 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff well-being but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance (Statistics from Mind 2017)
Although we are seeing an increasing number of public figures open up about mental health, with people like Professor Green, Ruby Wax,
Freddie Flintoff, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge becoming ambassadors for mental health charities and involved in campaigns and messages, there are still a lot of walls to knock down surrounding mental health. Many employees feel as though they don’t have anyone in work that they can talk to about their mental health, or that they may be judged by others/their employer if they do.
Ruby Wax and many other experts have discussed how social media and this new digital age has affected our mental health more than ever, with social media forcing us to compare ourselves to everyone else, and these feelings of inadequacy trickling down into our professional lives, too. We are constantly online, constantly available, constantly not living in the moment. We are always looking at the visual, which can cause even more anxiety for people struggling with their mental health because they don’t have a physical ailment to show people what they are battling with. Before we go into how to tackle the issue, we must first be able to recognise the signs that an employee is struggling:
- A change in behaviour, not getting involved in office chat or being overly extroverted
- Fluctuating moods and mood swings
- Inconsistency in work output
- Appearing anxious, tired or withdrawn
- Struggling to focus on tasks
- Difficulty making decisions
It’s hard to approach the issue of mental health, and many employers are afraid to reach out to an employee for fear of overstepping the mark. If you feel you should approach an employee, the advice given on mental health awareness pages is to find a quiet and private place to approach the subject, ask them how they are feeling and don’t push for an answer straight away, and most importantly – be honest. Here are some actions you can take to move forward in creating a better working environment to contribute to employee well-being, after all, you’re only as good as the people you employ…
- Create a culture of openness, encouraging employees to talk about their mental health and how they feel
- Encourage more breaks away from desks and encourage employees to get out of the office – this is know to reduce stress
- Take a look at how success is managed and rewarded within the business. Are people feeling unloved or discouraged?
- Take regular staff surveys to gauge how they are feeling, this is particularly important in large organisations
- Most importantly, get to know your staff. Otherwise, how will you know if an employee is acting out of character or struggling?
If you would like an expert approach to mental health and well-being in your organisation or plan to hold an event on the topic, take a look at some of the most sought-after speakers and subject matter experts:
The former entertainer is now an expert on psychology, human behaviour & communication. She is one of the most sought-after speakers on mental health & mindfulness.
A mother of 7 children with disabilities, Vikie has shown that the most trying of circumstances can be used as a positive force, specifically in promoting awareness of autism & mental health.
Frank has used his status & his well documented mental illness to help change perceptions that surround mental health, campaigning for higher standards of care given to sufferers.
Best known from Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Harper combines her medical know-how with an exceptional presenting ability, making a wide variety of health & well-being topics accessible and intriguing.
John is an expert in the use of lifestyle strategies for optimising wellbeing, health & performance. John has worked with a wide range of organisations to improve individual & organisational well-being & performance.
Ben has recently completed 401 marathons in 401 days all over the UK, equating to 10,506 miles. The challenge raised in excess of £300,000 for two anti-bullying charities.
Steve’s research on the brain and how we can manage our ‘inner chimp’ for success in all areas of life makes him one of the most sought after Psychiatrists across sectors.
Ben’s philosophy is one of creating a more inclusive, diverse environment in a number of sectors, to make better use of different backgrounds & experiences to benefit colleagues & customers alike.
John Amaechi was the first NBA Basketball player to come out & was met with some negative responses from team mates & coaches. He is now a psychologist & consultant talking on mental health.
David inspires audiences to engage all employees in pursuit of the organisation’s goals & to deliver value for all its stakeholders.
If you would like to check the availability of a speaker or talk to our dedicated consultants about your conference, event or learning needs please don’t hesitate to get on touch on 02031377353 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.