In today’s rat-race, many of us have resigned ourselves to a life with anxiety and stress; it’s simply the price we pay for a busy and fast-paced lifestyle. But this is a damaging mindset, and it’s time to challenge that assumption.
Thankfully, organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation are removing the stigma around psychological well-being through initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week. Through their use of social media, video case-studies and events, they have enabled those affected by mental health issues to speak out, and share their stories without fear of judgement.
Ahead of this nationwide campaign, we surveyed 1,500 members of the British public about their attitudes towards mental health and the workplace. Worryingly, almost half of UK employees (48%) reported having felt too anxious or depressed to get up for work in the morning at some point during their careers.
On the upside, the majority of employees (56%) say they would feel confident and comfortable discussing any mental health issues they may be experiencing, with their manager, and 60% believe that their illness would be given the attention required.
Despite this, only 39% of managers feel equipped and sufficiently trained to deal with mental health issues that members of their team may be experiencing.
Employers must be mindful of this, and recognise their obligation to provide both employees and managers with the support and guidance required to deal appropriately with mental health issues. This not just the responsibility of the HR department; in order for such an initiative to work, the entire business needs to be educated on the importance of recognising and supporting mental health in the workplace.
The most fundamental step in offering support, and providing staff with a healthy working life, is to listen. It is vital in any modern business that employees have the ability to self-report any issues or concerns they might have, under the comfort of anonymity if required.
Managers, in turn, must undergo training in order to appropriately handle matters of such delicate nature. It is vital that they feel comfortable dealing with issues that may arise in their team, and are able to spot early signs of burnout or stress. Through open dialogue between teams, companies can ensure that they are best prepared to support their staff, and provide a mentally healthy workplace.
For all of the benefits that Mental Health Awareness Week generates by facilitating conversation and reducing stigma, its effectiveness is greatly reduced if met with apathy. Companies must learn the key messages behind the campaign, and be proactive in implementing its principles to drive change.