According to the CIPD, less than one third of line managers are trained to deal with mental health issues. This is a particularly alarming statistic in Northern Ireland alone, with the country reporting a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental health problems than England. Statistics are just as alarming in the South, with 1 in 5 people suffering from depression at some point in their lives and a further, and tremendously tragic, 392 people taking their own lives in 2017.
You might therefore think that such startling statistics would be enough to convince businesses to take a real stand and invest in their employees’ mental wellbeing. As Dr Ali Haggett, former Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and a specialist in the history of psychiatry and mental illness explains however, “while we’re certainly making progress in being more open about mental health, it’s still a major issue.”
With a reported one third of our lives spent at work, Webrecruit Ireland recognises the extent of this epidemic, and the importance of taking steps in the workplace towards helping to find a solution. Here are our top 5 steps that organisations can take to support their employees’ mental health in the workplace.
Promote mental wellbeing in the workplace
Promoting mental wellbeing at work helps to decrease the possibility of employees becoming stressed and overburdened with workload. As aforementioned, work is a massive part of our lives and it is therefore essential that steps are taken to keep your workforce happy.
Create an open culture
Employees should be encouraged to talk about their mental health. An open culture helps to make people more comfortable in the workplace and there are a number of ways you as an employer can help to implement this. The Mindful Employer initiative is an excellent way of evaluating your company’s approach to workplace mental health and creating steps to make it better.
Listen instead of advise
Unless you’re a trained counsellor, you are not fully equipped to advise someone who is suffering from a mental health issue. Instead, it’s better to listen. If anything that you may be able to control does arise, such as allowing time off and helping with workload, then do so. Any medical and psychological advice however, should be left to an accredited practitioner.
Implement and highlight options for those employees who may be struggling
As an employer, it’s crucial that you highlight the options available for employees who are struggling. Policies, procedures and a list of available resources should be in place so as you can point employees in the right direction should they need it. This information must be kept in a central and accessible place to allow anyone to find it with ease.
Keep line managers clued in to warning signs