Looking after employee mental health and wellbeing

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13th to 19th May 2019, which should give UK organisations a reminder that they need to look at the problems that can arise by not managing employee mental health and wellbeing effectively.

A recent survey conducted by St John’s Ambulance found that nearly 45% of people have considered leaving their job due to mental health issues. Furthermore, two thirds of people who took part in the survey said they felt uncomfortable asking an employer for a mental health sick day and 1 in 4 felt their work is having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

Workplace stress is a massive problem for UK workers. According to the HSE, over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work. It is the legal duty of businesses to take action to protect employees against stress by doing a risk assessment to assess the risks in the six main causes of stress in the workplace, namely:

  1. Demands
  2. Control
  3. Support
  4. Relationships
  5. Role
  6. Change

Pressures and stresses can come from both work and home. At work there are often heavy workloads, long working hours and colleague relationship issues, while at home there can be financial stresses, lifestyle pressures and general family concerns, all of which have an impact on the way people feel and act at work.

Employers should consider the mental, as well as physical, wellbeing of their employees, focusing on prevention rather than reacting to some of the possible outcomes such as high absenteeism and staff turnover rates.

Employers can help people deal with stress by allowing them to balance their work and personal lives more effectively. Businesses should also ensure managers at all levels of an organisation are supportive and empathic. Awareness, encouragement and recognition are important, as feeling valued and appreciated provides a key extrinsic motivator which can have a positive impact on a person’s mental wellbeing.

Visit the HSE website for more information and advice about employee mental health and wellbeing and dealing with workplace stress: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/what-to-do.htm

For more information about Mental Health awareness week, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

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