February 6, 2020

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Mental health

Time to Talk Day: Get your workplace talking

To mark Time to Talk Day 2020, and on the back of the release of the HSE’s annual statistics on work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2018/19, organisations are being encouraged to support colleagues who may be experiencing a mental ill-health issue in the workplace.

SOCOTEC tackles workplace mental healthThe HSE report reports that 602,000 workers have suffered from with mental ill-health in 2018/19. The data also highlights that 12.8m working days were lost as a result of stress, depression and anxiety, which contributed to 54% of the total number of days lost due to ill health.

To help combat the stigma around mental health at work, SOCOTEC UK arranged for its HR department to undergo Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in July 2018. The training demonstrated how to recognise the crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental health and how to provide the appropriate support. While they are not a substitute for trained therapists or psychiatrists, Mental Health First Aiders act as the first point of contact for employees who are experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress, offering impartial advice, providing appropriate support and listening in a non-judgemental manner.

The training also provided an enhanced understanding of the various factors that can affect wellbeing, equipping themselves with the competence required to identify and support associated symptoms and triggers.

In 2019, as part of its Time to Talk strategy, Thames Water released a video starring employees working in the many roles within the company stating, ‘I have mental health’. The aim of the film is to continue to push the understanding of everyone as to what the words ‘mental health’ actually mean.

Watch the Thames Water Time to Talk film in full here.

In the video below, part of SHP’s Mind Matters series, Heather Beach and Mark Glover discuss the relationship between employee and employer when it comes to opening up and talking about mental ill health.

According to Aviva’s upcoming Health of the Workplace report, just 9% of employees who have had a mental health condition sought help from their line manager. Meanwhile, only 12% said they would discuss their mental health with a work colleague. Only 4% would talk to HR.

Other key findings included:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of employers have said that they’re ‘good at identifying when team members are under pressure’, yet only 37% of employees agreed with this statement.
  • Employees are increasingly becoming mindful of their colleagues’ mental health. Over half (55%) of employees highlighted that they worked with someone who experienced a mental health condition.
  • There’s also a growing recognition that employees should not hide their mental health or put on a brave face if they are struggling– as 88% of employers and 87% of employees agreed that ‘it’s OK not to feel OK.’

In line with SOCOTEC’s range of workplace mental health initiatives, professionals are also encouraged to participate in Time to Talk Day on Thursday 6 February 2020. Organised by Time to Change, a social movement dedicated to encouraging people to become more open about mental health, the aim of the day is to get more people talking about and listening to those with mental health issues, helping to change lives for the better.

Kim Chapman, HR business partner, SOCOTEC UK, commented: “With one in three of the UK workforce diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime, it is vitally important for organisations to encourage their staff to listen, reassure and respond to a range of mental health-related crises.

“SOCOTEC strives to support employees experiencing emotional distress or a mental health issue, encouraging them to talk more freely and helping to break down the stigma associated with workplace mental health. We strongly believe that MHFA training will help to implement positive cultural and behavioural change within the workplace and hope to inspire other organisations to follow suit.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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