Spotlight on mental health
With figureheads including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spearheading campaigns to remove the stigma associated with mental health, it is often in the spotlight. And last week’s World Mental Health Day (10 October) has further increased awareness. However, it seems, there is still some way to go to reduce the impact of mental illness on the workplace.
Figures released by The Work Foundation find that mental health conditions are a leading cause of sickness absence in the UK; over 15m days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2014. Work itself can often be a cause of common mental problems, and research from Mind confirms that a culture of fear and silence around mental health – employees not feeling able to confide in managers – is costly to employers.
When considering how businesses move forward in creating a more mental-health-aware workplace, the World Federation for Mental Health, in its report on this year’s campaigns, quotes employer Nigel Jones, Partner in Linklaters and Board Member of the City Mental Health Alliance. He encourages employers to:
- consider how investing in people’s health and wellbeing fits with your organisation’s culture, values and people strategy;
- invest in developing the skills of line managers to deal effectively with mental health issues; and
- find people who are willing and able to tell their personal stories of dealing with illness.
“Over the last few years we have … tried to be more open about mental health. Our approach isn’t prescriptive. We recognise and appreciate that everyone’s needs are different … Culturally it’s still much easier to talk about our physical health… than to talk about suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. It’s time to change this. At Linklaters, we have taken the opportunity to mark World Mental Health Day each year and to stress the importance of good mental health to all our people.”
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The Health at Work Policy Unit (HWPU) provides evidence-based policy recommendations and commentary on contemporary issues around health, wellbeing and work. Based at The Work Foundation, it draws on The Work Foundation’s substantial expertise in workforce health, its reputation in the health and wellbeing arena and its relationships with policy influencers. The HWPU aims to provide an independent, authoritative, evidence-based voice capable of articulating the views of all stakeholders.
For further details, please visit www.theworkfoundation.com.