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Talking about Mental Health in the workplace

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Talking About Mental Health in the Workplace

In 2018, 54% of workdays lost were accounted for by stress, anxiety and depression, identifying a major health concern in the UK. Why is it then that we find mental health so hard to talk about? According to figures, only 13% feel comfortable telling their employer about their mental health concerns leaving many people to suffer in silence.

Mental health problems are commonly described as invisible illnesses: issues that cannot be seen and therefore should not be heard. Though in many ways, these issues have a more significant impact on individuals than physical injury: 6507 people took their lives in 2018 in comparison to 1770 people who were killed in traffic collisions, demonstrating that an inability to talk openly about mental health is costing far more lives than we would think.

This can be due to a number of reasons including fear of societal rejection or being placed under a label that could be interpreted as weak or unstable. In particular, men seemingly find it harder to discuss mental health than women with 75% of suicides carried out by men. Traditional gender roles, reaffirmed by the media, have had a great impact in pressuring men into being emotionally strong rather than talking and seeking help for their problems. It is, therefore, especially important that in male-dominated industries, such as construction, training and resources are readily available.

The Queen’s Head pub is one business that prides itself on mental health resources for staff. They have two mental health first aiders on site, offer free counseling services to staff and provide mental health training where possible. Erin, the Queen’s Head social media manager, commented, “Mental health is often neglected in comparison to physical health because you can’t see the problem but they are both equally important. We attended a virtual mental health awareness course recently and I was really shocked at the statistics. I think that every business should prioritise mental health because it creates a happy and productive workplace.”

According to Mind, 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance. Though, with the majority of people now carrying out remote work, it is more important than ever to reach out to others and provide a non-judgemental listening ear. The key to improving mental health is communication. It is not about trying to fix problems and is instead about listening and becoming aware of resources to signpost others to where they can get help. Mind suggests checking in with staff members to see how they’re coping over the lockdown and providing access to mental health resources. Considering that we spend a significant amount of time working, it makes sense to provide space and opportunity for mental health discussions in the workplace.

For free resources on taking care of mental health in the workplace visit:

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