Encouragingly, increasing efforts are being made across Great Britain to raise awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been working through the Royal Foundation for several years to shine a light on issues with mental health in the workplace.
- Mental Health Awareness Week has been running on an annual basis with for the past 18 years with a rapidly increasing profile.
- In May 2019 hundreds of events took place across the UK in aid of supporting better mental health.
- Terminology such as “mental wellbeing” has become part of modern vocabulary.
- A simple Google search for “tips for mental well-being”, for example, yields over 9 million results.
However, the statistics would suggest that these efforts are not yet anywhere near enough, with 15.4 million days being lost in 2017/18 to work-related stress, depression and anxiety according to the latest HSE Labour Force Survey.
Tackling mental health in the workplace
It is important to encourage all employees to be open about their mental health and let their employers know when they are not okay. You may even know about a mental health issue within your workforce, but you have not connected the dots. Consider a simple change in one of your employees:
- They are persistently late when they used to be punctual
- Their attention to detail has slipped lately and they are making trivial mistakes
- You suspect that they have started drinking during their lunch breaks.
These could be early warning signs that your employee is struggling to cope, and a prudent employer should try and support the employee to discuss how they are feeling.
Critically, this is vital both for the individual’s mental wellbeing and for the overall success of your business. Millions of pounds of revenue are lost each year in the UK due to sick days lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression and to reduced productivity and efficiency from struggling staff who continue to make it into work. Further still, mental illness including stress, anxiety and depression can amount to a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act and a successful discrimination claim can attract uncapped compensation.
The number of disability discrimination claims at Employment Tribunals has risen by 37%, from 4,770 in 2017 to 6,550 in 2018. It has been suggested that this rise may be a result of the growing awareness of mental health issues by individuals.
Prevention is always better than cure so what can you do?
- Start the conversation and engage specialist learning and development coaches to offer a variety of training and awareness sessions for everyone from your board executives to your HR team, or the employees on the ground that keep the day to day business moving.
- Focus on why mental wellbeing is important and what you can do, how to spot the early warning signs, or how to protect and promote the mental wellbeing of every individual in your business.
Mental wellbeing should be at the top of the agenda for all businesses and their employees. Through our Employment Law practice, we offer training sessions that are unique and tailored to the specific needs of your business.
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