Mental Health Awareness at Work
Take a look around your workplace. How does everyone seem today? The chances are your colleagues appear settled and focused – and most of them are. But an inescapable truth is that some are also struggling. This is where mental health awareness and workplace wellbeing come into play.
At the start of 2018, we’re teaming up with Champs Consulting to focus on promoting mental health awareness at work, and the tools businesses can arm themselves with to improve workplace wellbeing.
On 24th January, we’re running an interactive taster session, Everyone Included: Wellbeing at Work, to introduce the benefits of workplace wellbeing. Then in February we’re offering the chance to join our two-day Mental Health First Aid course and gain an internationally-recognised MHFA qualification.
Why is mental health awareness at work so important?
According to the mental health charity Mind, at any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Poor mental health is costing UK employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year. If you are a private sector employer, the cost to you is an average of more than £1,100 per employee each year.
Good mental health enables us to thrive. As individuals we understand this and now business leaders, too, are increasingly acknowledging the importance of wellbeing in the workplace.
Research studies provide strong evidence that companies with high levels of mental health are more successful. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by up to 12%. And, as reported in the government’s Stevenson-Farmer Review of Mental Health and Employers in 2017, businesses that invest in mental health interventions report an average £4.20 return for each pound spent.
Find out more about our upcoming events on mental health awareness
Practical ways to raise mental health awareness at work
At EW Group, we believe that good mental health and good management go hand-in-hand. To that end, we have partnered with Champs Consulting to create a bespoke new programme centred on mental health awareness. Led by Mental Health First Aider and wellbeing specialist Ruth Cooper-Dickson, our training is tailored particularly to support businesses of all sizes – from SMEs to larger corporates – seeking to build a culture of wellbeing within their organisations.
“Happy and engaged employees are more energetic, innovative and better equipped to cope with challenges,” says Ruth. “That’s why it makes sense for all employers to create good mental health environments where their greatest assets – their people – can flourish.”
Your most engaged employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave your organisation
Culturally intelligent leaders are 3.5 times more likely to get the full potential out of their staff
Promoting mental health awareness – what can businesses do?
“Starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult,” says Ruth Cooper-Dickson. “In fact, talking openly is the best thing you can do to break the taboo. If employees know their boss is clued up about mental health, they are likely to feel more comfortable about coming forward to discuss any problems they might have.”
Our interactive taster, Everyone Included: Wellbeing at Work, takes place on 24th January at the White Collar Factory in London. The session will highlight the benefits of building a culture of workplace wellbeing, and explain practical ways to put mental health on the agenda for your business.
Our two-day Mental Health First Aid course on 12th-13th February enables you to go deeper and gain an internationally-recognised qualification in mental health awareness. This targeted training course will equip your designated wellbeing champions with the skills and confidence to spot early signs of mental health conditions, so that they can support staff and signpost them to the expert care they need. By the end of the two-day course, delegates will become certified Mental Health First Aiders.
What is workplace wellbeing?
Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health goes through ups and downs. We all have tough times when we feel low, stressed or frightened. Usually, those feelings pass, but sometimes they develop into anxiety or depression. And some people have more complex, long-term mental health conditions, such as an eating disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. All of these can affect our ability to engage and perform at work at a consistently high level.
Diagnosis is not always a predictor of an individual’s experience, either, so as managers and colleagues it is important never to jump to conclusions. For example, some schizophrenics lead fully-functioning lives, while others living with anxiety are severely impacted by their condition.
Workplace wellbeing, then, refers to the business goal of being watchful of, and then improving on, the collective mental health of your workplace, so that everyone feels supported and included, particularly in the more difficult times.
Mental health awareness for managers – 5 signs to watch out for
91 million working days a year are lost to mental health issues – that’s an estimated cost of £35 billion to UK employers – but 67% of workers report feeling too scared or embarrassed to admit taking time out for mental health reasons. If you’re a manager at work, here are some common signs that can surface in colleagues who are struggling with their mental health:
- They may be making more mistakes than normal, or having trouble with decision-making and concentration.
- They may become more irritable and sensitive to criticism.
- They may become increasingly absent or alternatively start working excessively, staying late and bypassing lunch-breaks.
- They may exhibit physical symptoms, such being constantly tired or suffering from a cold that won’t go away.
- They may take less care with their appearance, or show signs of drinking alcohol to help them switch off in the evenings.
Looking to focus on workplace wellbeing in 2018?
Raising mental health awareness at work – the business benefits
Internationally, the impact of mental health awareness-raising initiatives in the workplace is already proving overwhelmingly positive. A 2017 Deloitte study evidenced approaches across Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium and Sweden which are empowering employers to implement interventions.
“As always, prevention is better than cure,” says Ruth. “We know that the average seven-day absence from work costs £8,000 and that 300,000 people leave their jobs every year due to serious mental health problems. Alongside the human toll is a cost to employers – the recruitment of a new team member costs an average £30,000 – so it is not so much whether your business can afford a mental health strategy, but more that it cannot afford not to have one.”
At EW Group, we see mental health awareness as an extension of inclusive cultures. “For me, wellbeing has always been the wrapper around inclusion,” says Ruth. “Inclusive leaders don’t treat mental health as a hidden or stigmatised form of disability. They talk about it openly and honestly and allow the small but significant adjustments that make employees feel 100 times better about coming to work and being their authentic selves.”
The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the world’s most common illness by 2030, and a greater burden than illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The rewards for taking action on mental health awareness now speak for themselves: happier, healthier workforces make for stronger, more successful businesses.