How is it possible for employers to take responsibility for an employee’s mental health, when most do not fully understand their own mental health?
Dave Lee, author of The Hairy Arsed Builder’s Guide to Stress Management, explains how ‘Fundamental Life’ is approaching the issue of understanding Mental Health in the workplace.
“Did you know that there has been a lesser known obligation for employers to take responsibility for the mental health of their employees for some time now?
“The work environment and work-load pressures can aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions and be the cause of new conditions in the individual that can create further internal and external symptoms. This in turn can, and does, have a negative effect on the overall working environment and mood, reducing morale and production for more than just the suffering individual.
“Whether work is causing the mental health issue or aggravating it, all employers have a legal responsibility to support their employees. Work related mental health issues must now be assessed to measure the levels of risk to all staff. Where a risk is identified, an employer must prove that they have taken steps to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.
“Some employees may have a pre-existing mental ill health condition when recruited or may possibly develop one caused by factors that may or not be work-related. This is also a challenge for employers, as they are not legally allowed to ask about an applicant’s mental state prior to engagement. If an employer were allowed to ask, would the interviewee be open to sharing this information or even know that they had a mental ill health issue?
“The challenge and onus for employers can be both confusing and overwhelming, with very little ‘real’ support, apart from the old approach of sign-posting suffering employees to the NHS for counselling and medication. On top of this, the current legislation is very heavily weighted in favour of the employee with little or no rights for the employer. This alone has the potentially to trigger a mental health issue for any ill-informed and unsuspecting employer.
“Many of the current programs train ‘mental health champions’ to take on a support and ‘quasi diagnosing role’. This may appear useful in the short term and most definitely opens up the vital conversation around this matter but does not always empower the individual with effective tools to manage themselves in the moment. Current solutions point the individual towards what is being created, rather than what is really creating our experience.”
Can of worms
“Recent conversations with several larger employers have pointed to a cobra effect. In numerous reported instances, the effect on the ‘mental health champion’ has been one of overwhelm coupled with a marked decline in their own mental wellbeing. Another common issue raised was that of ‘overturning stones’ or ‘lifting the lid on a can of worms’ for individuals, with the employer not having access to any ‘real tools’ to deal with the issues that arise, apart from more sign posting to an already underfunded and overstretched NHS. Incidents of employees ‘going into melt-down’ in front of the ‘mental health champions’ have been reported, leaving ‘mental health champions,’ their employers and the suffering individual in a very vulnerable and precarious situation.
“’Fundamental Life’ believes, from its research and feedback, that there is more that can be done to empower the business owner and the individual to understand the fundamentals of their innate inner wellbeing. Once we know where and how this is being created, we can begin to make the required changes that lead to a more peaceful, calm, connected and creative life experience.
“On a practical and physical level, caring employers can create an environment that is comfortable, safe and enjoyable to work in for their staff. If the business is strong, they may even be able to offer secure long-term contracts of employment and even pay a reasonable living or above wage, which offers great comfort to many, knowing they have a reliable income that enables them to support their family and themselves.
“The big question is ‘How is it possible for any employer to take responsibility for an employee’s mental health, when most employers do not fully understand their own ‘mental health?’.”
Dealing with mental ill health
“The unique programs created by ‘Fundamental Life’ challenge the old paradigm on ‘mental health’ and how we see and deal with it.
“‘Fundamental Life’ is an innovative and forward-thinking wellbeing organisation based in the South of England. Myself, a former builder turned author and speaker on mental health and Paul Apps an author, wellbeing coach and mentor have both originated from troubled and challenging backgrounds. Our personal experiences have been key in helping to develop a unique, simple and profoundly effective program which points the individual to ‘The Source’ of their own inner wellbeing.
“When a person truly understands the basics of where the source of their life experience comes from and how this experience is being is created, that they have a far better chance of creating a better ‘moment to moment’ experience for themselves.
“The programs run demonstrate that when we truly understand how thoughts and feelings actually work, we can find our way back to ‘good mental health’, peace of mind and a more stable, creative, connected and enjoyable life experience.
“The insights, when taken on, provide the individual with a much healthier understanding of why they feel like they do, arming them with the potent knowledge that enables informed and effective decision making, often without the need for outside intervention.
“This fresh approach can be viewed as contrary to the old paradigm. The statistics show that ‘poor mental health’ is on an ever-accelerating accent, which would imply that the old methods are at best, not enough and at worst, potentially making the problem worse.
“Who really knows what you are thinking? Who really knows how you are feeling? Who really knows you best? The individual is reminded that we are our own best resource and can simply create a more peaceful and fulfilled life for ourselves, when armed with the fundamental facts.
“Existing programs have been very successful in opening the door to the conversation around ‘mental ill health’ with the statistics clearly demonstrating that there is a need for ‘real change’ in thinking and culture around this vital matter.
“Fundamental Life’s simple, fun and effective sessions share insights that can create more stable and informed thinking and a more personally responsible approach to an individual’s innate inner wellbeing, offering employers a choice in what they are able to provide to their greatest assets in terms of where the ‘true responsibility’ for their employees’ mental health actually rests.”
Workplace Wellbeing Show
Learn how to keep your workforce happy and healthy, and understand how to respond to the challenge of mental wellbeing in a brand new feature in Safety & Health Expo for 2019, featuring:
- Wellbeing Theatre: for those FMs, HR professionals and H&S practitioners eager to improve the wellbeing of their workforces
- Healthy Eating Café: promoting health eating in the workplace with salad boxes and delicious protein power bowls
- Wellness Wall: experts from IWFM share ideas on how to encourage workplace wellbeing
Get your free ticket to Safety & Health Expo | ExCeL London | 18 - 20 June