It’s time to talk about mental health
In the UK, 15 million people are living with one or more long-term mental health conditions. The scale is deeply concerning – it’s almost a third of our population.
When you consider that the good mental health of employees is one of the corner stones of a successful company, you can appreciate why many organisations that fail to support their workers tend to experience high staff turnover, low morale and a decline in performance.
Issues such as anxiety, depression and other conditions can affect anyone at any point in their lives, with stressful events such as divorce, relationship break-ups, financial problems, and bereavement, making us more vulnerable. It, therefore, makes sense that we should all feel comfortable talking about mental health without fear of judgement or job loss.
Erasing the stigma of mental health
Remember when gender equality was a subject once avoided at work? Now, the country’s most influential companies publicise their achievements such as hiring more female directors.
Mental health is set to be the next workplace taboo to be smashed. But to progress, we need to start dismantling barriers and correcting falsehoods.
Why work is the ideal place to start
At the moment, 30 million people are employed – that’s around three-quarters of the UK’s population. If every employer engaged with staff about mental health in a positive way, the potential impact they could have on society’s attitude is remarkable.
The sooner this starts, the sooner we’ll all benefit health-wise and economically.
Tips on talking about mental health at work
We support all kinds of awareness raising initiatives, including the Time to Talk campaign on Thursday 7 February. Naturally, mental health is a priority all year round, but why not use this day to jumpstart your activity? If you’re unsure about how to start, these ideas will kick-off conversations:
- During a meeting, run a myth-busting quiz to help inform people of the reality of mental health.
- Invite a mental health expert into the office to give a talk.
- Run a fundraising coffee morning for a mental health charity and invite clients and neighbouring businesses. It’s a good idea to prepare facts and figures to share with guests.
- Write your own blog on what your workplace is doing to support mental and emotional wellbeing.
- Share helpful videos on mental health via the intranet, email and social media – choose a few from this YouTube channel.
- Offer to be a ‘mental health champion’ at work; listen to colleagues who want to chat about their concerns in confidence, and regularly share useful information.
- Give a talk to colleagues about your own experience of a mental health issue, or that of a family member or friend.
- Plan activities that reduce stress and anxiety – mindfulness sessions, lunch-time walks, coping techniques, etc.
- Hold lunchtime hobby workshops and use them as opportunities to talk about mental health. Sharing creative interests helps the conversation flow, and it’s great for our wellbeing. Suffolk MIND has a range of mental wellbeing courses to benefit your business.
By creating your own yearly plan of activities, you can keep up the momentum; use this calendar of key campaign days has a handy resource.
Remember to keep an eye on our blog for more advice on mental health at work.