It is widely acknowledged that employment is generally good for mental health and wellbeing. However, sometimes the workplace can contribute to the development and worsening of mental health problems. Stressful working environments, bullying and monotonous work are just some of the things that can instigate work related mental ill-health. In 2014/15 there were 440,000 cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK.
However, in reality we think that number is bigger. There still remains a culture of silence around mental health in the workplace. More than half of people refrain from telling their boss/colleagues about the issues they’re experiencing because of stigma.
Breaking stigma in the workplace
1 in 5 workers has called in sick due to unmanageable stress, but 93% lied to their boss about the reason why. There’s a big need to break this stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace so that employees can become more open with how they’re feeling. There should really be no shame in talking to a colleague or boss. Here are some things that we believe companies can do to mainstream conversations about mental health:
- Spread awareness of mental health and wellbeing amongst staff through training or education
- Implement a ‘buddy’ system where people can get support if they want to
- Sign up the organisation to a 'breaking stigma' campaign, such as the Time To Change Employer Pledge
Support employees with self-help material
People with physical health problems already use self-help tools to control their symptoms. For instance, there are countless apps which are currently being used to support people in getting active and lose weight. Self-help can have a positive impact in mental health and the prevention of mental health problemens as well. Offering employees tools to learn to cope with challenging mental health conditions and to create sustainable behaviour changes in their life helps to prevent more serious problems.
We believe that going through self-help material could be a good start off point. Minddistrict offers several self-help tools and modules, like Work Stress, Learn to Relax and Focus on your health. These modules can be effective in supporting people who are experiencing psychological issues in the workplace remotely. People can work on their health on a tablet, phone or computer anywhere at any time. Especially for people with busy lives and careers, this flexibility is great. Because you never know when you get just a little bit of time to work on it.