Boosting mental wellbeing

Our mental wellbeing is dynamic. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month or year to year.”

We shared that quote from the mental health charity Mind when we looked at ways of building mental resilience as part of World Mental Health Day 2018. This year’s event which takes place on 10th October takes suicide prevention as its theme. As in previous campaigns one of the core approaches is to open up discussion surrounding mental well-being as a means to provide support and also to reduce the stigma which still surrounds mental ill-health.

Sadly, a report by Slater and Gordon has revealed that 55% of employees who took time off last year as a result of their mental well-being invented a physical illness to explain their absence. This starkly illustrates the work which still has to be done in order that mental ill-health is seen on a par with physical ill-health.

Businesses which are themselves health practices should not see themselves as being immune from the challenges posed by mental well-being. Nor should any business view mental health as being a challenge brought into the business from outside. On the contrary, workplace stress has been identified as being the cause of relationship and sleep problems for many. So much so that the Slater and Gordon report revealed that in the last five years a quarter of people surveyed admitted to leaving at least one job due to pressure and the negative impact it was having on their mental health. In addition, one in six say they are still in a role which causes them burnout, stress and anxiety.

The importance of mental well-being in the workplace can perhaps be illustrated by the fact that it is the subject of an ongoing campaign by the Institute of Directors (IoD). A recent report on their website highlighted some startling statistics including the fact that one in six adults experience mental ill-health in any one working week, resulting in an ongoing cost of £35 billion per year in the UK. The report highlights the importance of mental health awareness starting at the top of businesses and being cascaded down by leaders through the culture of the organisation. It also suggests that businesses may want to consider training a member of staff to be a mental health first aider.

This closely ties in with the government’s 2017 report on mental health in the workplace which recommended adopting six mental health core standards, namely:

  • Make a mental health at work plan and tell workers about it.
  • Make sure that workers know about mental health.
  • When workers are finding things hard, give them the chance to talk about mental health and the help and support they can get.
  • Make sure workers have control and a sense of purpose about their work. Working should make people feel good.
  • Make sure that managers and supervisors manage people properly.
  • Make regular checks on workers’ mental health and their wellbeing.