The most common reason for people to take time off work, according to a recent NHS report, is based around mental health issues. MIND the mental health charity estimates around 1 in 6 workers are currently dealing with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Mental health can be affected by a range of factors both in and outside of work. According to ACAS, this hidden epidemic results in more than 91 million lost working days and a cost to UK employers of as much as £15 billion in productivity, a more than considerable economic impact.
Given that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in any given year, (statistics from The National Centre of Social Research), what can employers do to address this situation, to support employees and to minimise the effects of psychological ill health amongst staff?
Businesses are often unsure about how to react to someone with a mental health issue and may ignore it, which only serves to compound the problem. Starting a conversation about it doesn’t need to be difficult. There are ways to effectively support staff and increase employee engagement, motivation and productivity. Organisations have a responsibility to take steps to improve the well-being of employees. In the long run this lessens the impact of lost productivity on businesses.
Some mental health issues are triggered outside the workplace, however, a toxic work environment can create a climate of stress and absenteeism. Embedding an inclusive culture free of bullying, harassment and discrimination is fundamental – and therefore creating a climate where people are supported and feel confident to speak out. These messages can be explored through interactive training programmes to ensure that organisational values are demonstrated and promoted throughout all levels and roles within the organisation.
Open, communicative and accessible leadership acting as role models and mentors can visibly drive the culture change.
The Garnett Foundation December 2017