Who benefits from better mental health in the workplace?
In the last few years, mental health has been increasingly discussed more openly within the public arena. So why do we still hold back during a work interview from revealing our past or current mental health struggles? Does mental health stigma still persist in the workplace?
Around 1 in 6 employees will experience mental ill health each year, with a UK Workplace Wellbeing Study from 2017 revealing that mental health had been named as the second biggest challenge for employers for the forthcoming five years. Although not all reasons for poor mental health in the workplace are work-related, it is important that employers know how to support employees and have the skills and confidence to facilitate constructive wellbeing conversations.
Work benefits mental health, but only when the workplace is a safe, healthy and open environment. This is what our colleague, Gwen had to say, "Since working in my current job, I've seen large improvements in my mental health. On the other hand, I've also witnessed the detrimental impact a negative working environment had on a close relative's mental health. They had to leave the job in the end as it was having such a damaging effect on their mental well-being".
Increasingly, it is recognised that workplaces that address wellbeing at work, increase productivity by as much as 12%, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Prioritising mental wellbeing, from an employer’s point of view, can attract and retain talent and skill, increase engagement and boost productivity. Equally, a role that is appropriately designed and a workplace that is well-informed and committed to promoting positive mental health, enables individuals to feel supported or that they can ask for help when needed.
For many of us, work makes up a large part of our lives and so the way we feel whilst at work is important. Here are some of our tips for supporting a colleague or employee at work:
- Choose an appropriate place to talk; somewhere quiet, private or neutral.
- Ask the person how they are. Ask twice.
- Use open questions and active listening skills, such as; appropriate eye contact, small nods of encouragement and reflecting or summarising.
- Don’t rush to fill silences – remember that silence can be supportive. Sometimes the most powerful thing for somebody struggling with their mental health is to know that they are being listened to and heard.
Thanks for reading,
Thrive Mental Health Team
Thrive Mental Health Ltd is an international, ethical consultancy working across education, healthcare, sport and corporate sectors to improve individual, team and organisational mental health and wellbeing. For enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org