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Mental Health in the Workplace

Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Mental Health Awareness Week came to a close last week. We invited our close business contact Chris Orrick, founder of ManCoaching, to write a blog for us about mental health in the workplace.

Mental health, once a taboo subject, one which most people would never admit to suffering from is now, thankfully, being discussed in a more open and accessible way partly due to information and advice provided by the NHS but also celebrity involvement such as Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in their Heads Together campaign. However there is still a long way to go on this journey until we, as a race, fully accept that mental health is fundamentally ingrained in our communities, workplaces and relationships.

mentalhealth
The current picture in the UK workplace looks a little like this:
  • 20% of employees take sick days due to stress.
  • The number of sick days through stress and anxiety has increased by 24%.
  • 67% of employees feel scared, embarrassed or unable to talk about mental health concerns with their line management.
  • 77% of employees feel they have mental health concerns and 62% of these feel that work was a major contributing factor.
  • 25% of staff have considered resigning as a result of mental health issues.
 
The overall cost to the UK economy through mental health sickness currently stands at between £70 – 100billion per year. That’s a huge amount of money and this can affect UK businesses in a number of ways:
  • 70 million working days per year are lost – this includes sickness absence, loss of productivity or presenteeism.
  • Increased recruitment and training costs.
  • Overall staff morale is reduced.
 
Disappointingly, over half (56%) of managers said they would not employ someone who disclosed they had a mental health history, even if they were the most suitable candidate for the role. Organisations need to start sending out clear signals to their employees that their mental health matters and being open and honest about this will lead to full support, not discrimination.
 
Most employers work hard to support their employees with 76% of polled managers feeling they are responsible for employee well-being. However, only 22% have had formal training around mental health and how to support an employee it can be difficult to offer the correct support to their employees. As a nation, we feel we do not have the necessary skills to support our staff – nonsense!
 
An initial engagement can take the form of a simple conversation where the employee feels confident in coming to their employer for support. That’s not to say that employers have to have the skills – but they should have the necessary programmes in place internally or have access to external professional support.
 
Mind, one of the mental health charities that exist to support people with mental health issues, often provide fantastic resources for employers. One such document, as a starting point, is http://www.mind.org.uk/media/550657/resource4.pdf. This provides top level support for organisations on how to manage conversations with employees who have mental health issues.
 
More formally, schemes such as an Employee Assistance Programmes exist to support employers through times of need. Put it this way, when I jump in my car and start the engine, I have no idea of how it magically works, but when it doesn’t work – I know who to take it to. It’s the same concept – as managers / business owners we can’t possibly know every aspect of everything, but we absolutely owe it to ourselves and our staff to be able to support them and have available contacts to call.
 
So what is an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme)? In basic terms these programmes are designed to provide specialist information, advice and support around a wide range of personal and work-related issues which are adversely affecting an employees performance in the workplace.
 
Mental health can be complex and ensuring the right service is provided is key. While counselling, coaching and therapy may sound the same, they are, in fact, quite different in their approach and as such yield different results. It is therefore really important that your employee engages with the most suitable service. Having the ability to contact a professional to talk to initially supports the employer too in making the best decision for the organisation.
 
For small organisations, having the support from an external HR organisation can be critical on a number of fronts. Your HR professional will be able to offer you additional support around EAP in your workplace and how to successfully implement a new programme.
 
The overall message is to open communication with your employees and find out what support they feel would benefit them the most. We’re all individuals and no one size will fit, but initially a confidential conversation would be a great start in your workplace.
 
About ManCoaching
I have been involved in the training and development field since 1997 and have worked with thousands of people over those years. During my time in training I came to notice a few things about people that intrigued me – usually the older delegates on my training programmes would have huge reservations or as we call them limiting beliefs about being able to achieve a particular outcome or develop themselves to a point where they thought possible.
 
Informally I have coached and mentored delegates to develop a different way of thinking about themselves with some excellent results over the years.
Fast forward to more recent times and I’ve become heavily involved in coaching men. I’m passionate about supporting men through times in their lives where external guidance and challenge would be beneficial. Men have undertaken coaching to improve various aspects of their lives including anger, stress, divorce, extra-marital affairs (on both sides), procrastination, bullying, increasing income and more.
 
If you want an informal discussion, you can usually get me using these details:
07545501021 / chris@mancoaching.co.uk, or look at the ManCoaching website here.
 

 
Sources:
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/CR00233_Ebook_dualbranded_interactive.pdf
 
http://www.unum.co.uk/adviser-blog/3-reasons-why-mental-health-should-be-on-an-employers-radar
 
http://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/system/files/research/bitc_mental_health_at_work.pdf
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