Why you should address mental health in the workplace

In honour of mental health awareness week, we at BlueSky are keen to raise awareness around the common - but perhaps not as sufficiently discussed - issue of mental health at work - and why it’s vital that businesses today address this.

Currently, with a whopping 70 million working days lost each year due to poor mental health, it’s clear that as well as impacting employees this can have repercussions for employers too. For example, a recent Deloitte report revealed that poor mental health can cost UK businesses an estimated £33bn-£42bn each year. On top of this, neglecting this issue at work can also result in decreased staff retention, low productivity and a negative working environment, which no one wants. So, in order to break the cycle and make sure your business is getting on board with the programme and supporting individuals the best it can - here are a few ways to make sure you address employee mental health to combat any challenges and create a positive future workplace.

Get rid of the stigma

While the concept of mental health has flown into mainstream dialogue (which shows promise) there is still much to be done around the stigma attached to it - and the stats don’t lie. Figures from the Mental Health at Work report reveal that of the 61% of employees who experience mental health problems associated with work, only 16% feel able to disclose this with their manager or HR due to the fear of being judged or treated differently.

So how do we tackle this?

Through opening the lines of communication and introducing additional support such as regular one-to-ones, group chats and open door policies - this will work towards encouraging employees to feel comfortable in discussing any issues. While you don’t need to be the expert, you do to need prioritise putting strategies in place to support good mental health and become confident in making these type of conversations commonplace in the office.

Showcase your support

You might be working diligently to address mental health in your business – but who will know about all your hard work unless you spread the message far and wide? Use twitter, Instagram LinkedIn and, of course, your company website to share blogs, action plans and success stories that engage with your online audiences. By encouraging best practice and sharing what you are doing this will stand you in good stead for attracting new talent and by upping your marketing and press activities you’ll demonstrate why you are not only a great business, but a caring employer as well.

It’s also worth considering what other communication you can push online – for example, is there information that your target audience can access about your support for mental health and the work you do? Are you working with charities or mental health schemes? If so, now is the time to spread this across social media and enforce your message – particularly for retaining and engaging new staff this demonstrates to them the employee wellbeing issues that your business prioritises and why they should work for you.

Think long term

As with any business strategy, a short lived and disjointed approach won’t give the results you want or need. Nor will it give employees the assurance they need to talk openly about mental health. In order to address this, employers need to hone in on their corporate social responsibility and turn to both external and internal resources to foster an inclusive and positive workplace culture. From training, development and group activities to case studies and videos of employees sharing their experiences of mental health challenges or simply offering support. Content is key to demonstrate what you are doing behind the scenes and particularly when it comes to your business strategy and employer branding - neglecting workplace issues could see you lagging behind the competition.

While the topic of mental health and the taboo surrounding it can be hard to pin point – by working to increase your internal strategies and crucially sharing and joining in with the conversation – this will let employees and your online audience know you are not only addressing, but also championing good mental health in the workplace.

 

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