Six million Britons have been suffering with mental health issues for over a year and 18 per cent report that this has been caused by their job. In this infographic, the scale of mental health problems in UK workplaces is highlighted, plus some positive steps that employers can make to help are outlined.
It will probably come as no surprise to know that work can be stressful, but if workers are stressed for prolonged periods, it it likely to cause serious damage to their health.
NHS Confederation reported that those who suffer from mental health issues are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease. This shows that stressful jobs can be physically damaging and lead to long term ill health in workers.
After stress, workplace bullying is the second major cause of mental illness at work as reported by Mind. Working in high-stress or aggressive environments can be a huge barrier to the causes of mental health issues being resolved early. For Britons suffering from mental distress, evidence shows that 43% are uncomfortable raising it with their employer.
With NHS research showing that 50% of long term absences from work are caused by mental health issues, it’s a problem that is simply not going to go away on its own. Indeed, continued inaction from employers is likely to make the problem far worse.
In addition to the long term work absences, those suffering from mental health issues face significant challenges to returning to work. The stigma and discrimination attached to such illnesses have prevented 44% of people returning to work.
This week, 11-17th May, is Mental Health Awareness Week and is designed to get people talking about and taking action on mental health.
There are clear changes the employers can make to improve the mental health of their workforce. Mental health advice however should never be given out by someone who isn’t a trained healthcare professional. Mind have produced a simple guide detailing the steps employers can take to improve the mental health of their workforce.
Surveying staff anonymously to understand any problems and providing training for managers on handling mental health issues is a great start. Over time, making changes to an organisation’s working environment based on feedback from staff will help create a healthier and happier workforce. Even simple changes such as flexible working and changing the office space will help.
Far greater thought will need to be put into supporting those staff who are suffering mental distress, and putting in preventative measures to protect others.
Managing workloads and having regular communications with your workforce are important practices to enforce. For those who are on leave with mental health problems, their transition back to work must be carefully managed by using a phased return for one or two days a week as a starting point.
Mental health is a large problem facing the UK’s workforce. There is plenty that employers can do to address the stigma and discrimination, and help their employees who are suffering from prolonged mental distress.
Infographic produced by Paperstone, which provides office products, furniture and stationery to homes and businesses across the UK.