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Jacky Sherman

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Mental Health At Work: For Both You And Your Staff

Treat it the same as physical health ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 20/11/2019 @ 8:00AM

I meet a lot of people who have come out of employment after some kind of issue with their mental health at work, usually stress ...

Mental health at work should be treated the same as physical health!

Mental health at work should be treated the same as physical health!

photo by jeremy bishop on

At last, the issue is being addressed with some major initiatives. The most important one is to take away the stigma of mental ill-health and treat sufferers with the same compassion as people with a physical illness. It's rare these days to go to a networking event without bumping into someone who is offering mental first aid training.

Brilliant! So this week I'm handing over my blog to Dr AJ Yates for some quick tips we can all apply in our work whether it's for our staff or ourselves!

It's worth remembering that, being in work is incredibly beneficial for mental health; from having a sense of purpose to a daily structure, with a real-life social network of colleagues, and workers being financially secure; employers can play a key role in helping us all stay mentally healthy.

We often hear about stress in the workplace, but how big is the problem? For the individual, the impact can be profound and lead to issues with performance at work as well as motivation, and spill over to affect their personal life and relationships.

While this impact can be huge, it's difficult to quantify the effect on the individual. In contrast, the statistics around stress in the workplace paints a clearer picture. In 2016/17, there were 526,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in Great Britain, responsible for 40% of all cases of work-related ill health and 49% of all working days lost due to health issues.

"The scale of the problem appears shocking and the problems is the stigma that continues to surround mental health!"

If an employer can help to reduce the stigma, then anyone who is starting to struggle with their mental health is likely to seek help sooner. The quicker someone gets help for a mental health issue, the faster the recovery, leading to reduced rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover.

There are three simple steps that businesses can quickly implement to help overcome the stigma (and plenty of resources online):

  1. Make mental health visible

    Workplaces will have numerous health and safety posters on show around the premises. Do the same with signs about mental health. If somebody is reminded about the 10 Keys to Happier Living every time they go to make a cup of coffee, the message that we all have mental health, but that we need to do things to care for it will start to sink in. More information about 10 Keys to Happier Living (including downloadable posters) is on the Action for Happiness website.

  2. Treat mental health the same as physical health

    If somebody has been off work for any reason, ask about their mental health upon their return. By including a question around mental health in every return to work interview, people won't feel singled out if they are having mental health problems, and it will normalise mental health by talking about it with everyone. You can also include the question for all appraisal interviews to help reinforce the message.

  3. Spot the signs, and don't be afraid to ask the question

    We all react differently when we start to struggle with mental health problems. Some people might become withdrawn, while others might become more vocal or even aggressive. Work patterns might change, deadlines may be missed, or absences increase. The key thing to notice is any change in the individual. If you are concerned about someone, ask them about how they're feeling, whether that be over a coffee or in a more formal setting. Again, there's no one-size-fits-all, but there are lots of resources to help you start the conversation around mental health on the Time to Change website.

My addition to AJ's advice is to treat yourself as the number one member of your staff. Running a business can be stressful and overwhelm can be common. Make sure your support network is in place to keep you mentally healthy too.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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