Britain’s workforce may be suffering in silence, a new report from Heads Together, the Mental Health initiative backed by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reveals.
A survey of over 5000 people conducted on behalf of the campaign by YouGov revealed the statistic, yet the survey also showed almost half of the respondents had a conversation about mental health in the last three months. Only 2% of respondents had discussed mental health with HR, despite more than 12 million working days attributed to being lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2015-2016.
The survey shows that people are comfortable to discuss mental health issues, it’s just that they are reluctant to do so in the workplace.
What are the reasons for this?
Over many years interviewing and counselling those with challenges in the workplace, overwhelmingly the feedback on reluctance to make a disclosure came down to 3 core components:
3. Job Insecurity, whether real or perceived
As professionals, how can we change this?
1. Create Conversations
The biggest factor that can compound a mental health issue from something in the early stages to something more severe is the individual feeling socially isolated and withdrawing from colleagues and friends.
Organisations can be supportive by encouraging engagement and open conversations, whether 1-1 or more generally through training, awareness activities and focus groups.
2. Use mental health advocates and buddies to support colleagues
Again, this can help reassure the individual and give them a way of talking to somebody where they may be less fearful of judgement outside of the line a management hierarchy.
3. Model the right attitude from the top of the organisation
The recent report from the IoD focuses on “Tone from The Top” around discussing mental health and behavioural issues and their impact in the workplace.
Senior advocates for positive approaches to mental health and inclusion can send a clear message about what’s expected from colleagues in creating a supportive environment.
4. Educate on Compassionate Management
Let’s understand that to manage people effectively, it’s better to use a collaborative and coaching management style, rather than one which relies upon command and control, or even threats and coercion.
Workplace bullying, and threats and fear of performance management can create toxic cultures where mental ill-health becomes a huge issue, creating additional costs and risks to business that simply don’t need to be present in an organisation.
As managers and professionals, we need to understand that people have feelings and emotions, experiences.
To get the best from somebody, understanding what they want and need, and responding appropriately can make a world of a difference, both to the employees’ wellbeing and to their performance for the business.
Compassion should become part of the business lexicon.
*The YouGov Poll for Heads Together surveyed 5003 adults between 21 and 27th February.
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1 in 4 adults will suffer a mental health issue. Others, particularly in high stress managerial and professionals roles, may have an issue, either themselves or with a family member, with alcohol or other substances, impacting on workplace performance, health and safety.
As we live in an increasingly fast paced, volatile and uncertain world, the risk of workplace behavioural health issues increases.
It’s #TimeToChange in the workplace and it’s vital that employers and co-workers are up to speed on spotting the signs and dealing with issues fairly, compassionately and legally.
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