Mental health involves how we think, feel and behave. It impacts on daily life, relationships and can sometimes affect physical health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.
Promoting mental health in the workplace is particularly important. Every year, millions of working days are lost to mental health related issues. This costs an estimated £35 billion to the UK economy. Many people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed discussing these matters and often become increasingly unable to cope due to a lack of action.
Organisations can promote mental health by:
Providing access to appropriate training and also promoting mental health prevention in day to day work. Raising awareness of mental health and it’s importance can also help to promote a positive attitude to mental health.
They can also encourage and accommodate healthy lifestyles by providing good food, encouraging staff to spend time away from desks or work stations and give them the opportunity for physical activity.
Why promoting mental health will benefit your business
In 2017 a study was conducted across Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium and Sweden. Known as the Deloitte study it looked at the impact of mental health awareness initiatives in the workplace. It provided clear evidence that these initiatives were having a positive impact.
In addition to the financial cost of mental health problems, having an awareness of the importance of mental health can help workforces thrive. For a long time mental health problems have not been acknowledged and understood. This is now changing. Increasingly businesses are becoming aware of the power of mental health promotion. Consistently, studies are showing strong evidence that organisations that take mental health seriously and promote mental health awareness are more successful than organisations that do not.
By being open and aware of the importance of mental health, organisations can make a big difference. When a message comes from the top that that mental health issues are real and important it is much easier for employees to deal with their problems. It is where many people spend much of their time and it can be a stressful and fast paced environment.
Given the known prevalence of mental health issues there is a very good chance that you have employee in your company who is dealing with a mental health issues. They may not realise themselves that they are carrying this burden and if they do, they perhaps don’t know how to deal with it. Training can help to identify signs and remove stigma and shame around the subject. Simply providing ways to help people identify signs and symptoms of mental health issues is a great starting point.
Promoting mental health prevention
Even if an individual is aware they are not coping well mentally they may not know how to deal with it. Be clear with employees about how you can support them and how they can access support outside of your organisation. Be clear that it is a legitimate illness and will be acknowledged and treated as such.
By being open and aware of the importance of mental health, organisations can make a big difference. When a message comes from the top that mental health issues are real and important it is much easier for employees to deal with their problems.
Encourage and accommodate healthy lifestyles
Workplaces are often stressful environments. Stress can sometimes be useful to drive people and projects forward. But over a sustained period this can be very damaging. Consciously trying to make workplaces less stressful will help improve employees mental health. Encourage a good work/life balance. Encourage people to take breaks and relax for short periods throughout the day. Promote fun and wellness in your workplace. It may seem against traditional ideas of ‘hard work’ but it will ultimately get the best from your workforce as a happy, healthy team will take less time off for ill health and will be more productive over all.
It is vital that businesses and organisations have an awareness of mental health and its impacts. Engage in Learning provides online training courses which will help you and your organisation understand and deliver appropriate support and guidance to your employees.
If you need mental health support there are a various organisations who provide confidential help:
Samaritans – Call 116 123
Mind – Call 0300 123 3393
Shout – Text 85258