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August 21, 2017
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Mental Health: Developing a Deeper Understanding
Dave Lee spoke at Safety and Health Expo’s keynote debate on mental health in the workplace. After suffering from stress and issues with alcohol, Dave now supports businesses and individuals with the tools that he has developed following personal experience. Here, he lays out his vision.
I am acutely aware of the statutory duties placed on employers with regard to mental health and wellbeing. But I believe working with businesses and other stakeholders to enhance their strategies, enables them to go beyond simply paying a lip service to health and safety guidelines, especially when it comes to the management of wellbeing in the workplace.
Our associates come from all walks of life, and bring valuable life and professional experience to our cause. We collaborate, share knowledge and more importantly enjoy, find ways to improve psychological well-being where it is traditionally more inaccessible.
The workplace is a perfect example of this. I am passionate about sharing my insights, and believe creating lasting change in individual’s lives is possible, using methods and approaches which include: events, seminars, workshops, relatable scenarios, bespoke whiteboard animations and powerful personal reflective presentations that demonstrate long term, positive changes that have occurred for individuals who have participated in past events with A Deeper Understanding.
Our organisation’s ethos is about sharing knowledge and tools. We don’t hold intellectual property rights, and businesses are free to circulate in any form our information which is shared during events.
Exploration of thought-processes
Through exploration of our thought process as humans and how we all innocently engage with our internal negative thoughts, I believe ‘A Deeper Understanding’ is reached, allowing participants to feel relieved and more capable and resilient in dealing with what life throws at them.
This can have an extremely positive impact and benefit not only the employees’ work performance and reduced absenteeism but also can enhance their interpersonal relationships; providing them with more life satisfaction in a number of areas in their lives.
In May 2017, the prime minister Theresa May announced future reforms and a commitment to amending the Equality Act to protect those with mental health conditions from being discriminated against at work.
I welcomed these proposed changes in legislation that would involve scrapping the current rule that protects employees from discrimination only “if they have suffered from a mental illness continuously for more than 12 months” as this fails to take account of the intermittent conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder (IOSH, 2017).
“When it comes to health, employers have a duty of care concerning mental, as well as physical, ill health” (Aston, 2017).
In the UK today, thousands of people with poor mental health are suffering in silence, unable to share their condition or illness with colleagues or managers at work. This has to change.
Bev Messinger, CEO of IOSH, spoke of future proofing businesses and building an agile organisation, in collaboration with Management Today, stating that “the organisations that will flourish will be the ones who talk to their people, are honest with them, invest in them, keep them safe, value them and think about their wellbeing” and “It’s not just about a human resources commodity, it’s about treating a workforce as a community – they will then pull together and you will get massive discretionary effort. Organisations become very successful if they do that” (Staff M. T. 2017).
Karen McDonnell, OHP Policy Advisor at ROSPA, agrees and added that successful organisations need workers that are ‘ happy, healthy and here’, a simple ‘are you ok?’ can make the difference’.
Approached by staff
A survey carried out this year by the Institute of Directors showed that 54% of employers in the UK had been “approached by staff suffering mental ill health” – demonstrating the problem is vastly more widespread than we think.
It is also estimated, that at any one time, one in six people in the UK workforce is affected by a mental health condition, including, stress, anxiety and depression; with mental health problems accounting for 40% of sickness absence and possibly accounting for up to 5% of total staff turnover (IOSH, 2015).
ACAS states that “mental health problems cost employers in the UK £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence”. This reinforces how investment in employees’ health and wellbeing results not only in staff feeling valued and cared for, it can create a happy and motivated workforce that’s more likely to stay and perform well; with a growing number of businesses seeing the benefits of encouraging their employees to be healthy and emotionally resilient.
A recent Philips study revealed that more than 80% of patients believe employers bear at least some responsibility for preventing poor health and mental ill health. 88% of healthcare professionals agree. (FT, 2017). In order to tackle mental ill health amongst employees’ the workplace can be a useful arena to encourage people to engage and participate in the debate regarding wellbeing, especially as such a large part of an employees’ life is spent at work.
We encourage employees’ to take an interest in their wellbeing and engage with staff, reducing the stigma and fear of penalty, attached to prioritising good health by employees’, enabling them to be open about mental ill health issues amongst your workforce. This demonstrates a company’s positive culture, by showing a willingness to invest in employee wellbeing, and delivers companies with an outstanding place to work as a result.
Aston. L, (2017) Mental Health at Work Report 2016. [online] Available at: https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/system/files/research/bitc_mental_health_at_work.pdf [Accessed 21 July 2017]
Financialtimes.com (2017) Phillips chief Frans van Houten on employers’duty of healthcare, [online] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/230c2ad6-60aa-11e6-ae3f-77baadeb1c93 [Accessed 21 July 2017]
Ioshmagazine.com (2017) PM pledges mental health policy reform for workplace equality | IOSH Magazine. [online] Available at: https://www.ioshmagazine.com/article/pm-pledges-mental-health-policy-reform-workplace-equality [Accessed 24 Jul. 2017].
Ioshmagazine.com (2015) Working Well.Guidance on promoting health and wellbeing at work, [online] Available at: https://www.iosh.co.uk/workingwell [Accessed 20 July 2017].
McDonnell K. (2014)
Staff M. T (2017) 5 tips for future-proofing your business. [online] Available at: http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/5-tips-future-proofing-business/future-business/article/1438027#r3z-addoor [Accessed 21 July 2017]
This eBook features thought leadership articles from a broad range of experts and looks at overcoming macho culture, self-reliance, dealing with life-changing obstacles and battles with mental health. The profession has often focused primarily on safety over health, but this eBook highlights the value of focusing on wellbeing and the benefits to both workers and businesses.