The importance of Mental Health Awareness month

Clouded Mind

As May is Mental Health Awareness month (with a full week dedicated to it 14th-21st May), stress should be at the forefront of all employer’s minds this month.

Over three quarters of people say they feel regularly stressed in the workplace. Businesses all over the country could see a loss of millions of pounds if they fail to address stress related illness within the workplace.

Recently, a study named ‘Stress: Are We Coping?’ commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation has taken a look at stress and the amount of people it affects in our workplaces across the country.  Stress affects over 4600 adults in the UK, and it also found that 74% of people have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope with workloads, etc.

As employers, being switched on to how you can combat stress in your workplace is a step forward in showing your employees that you are taking mental health seriously and want to show them that they can talk to you about any issues they may be having.

Some causes of stress for employees, of which all employers should be aware of are:

  • Demands made of employers;
  • Support that employees receive from their Managers;
  • Level of control employees have over how they complete and carry out their work;
  • Clarity of the employee’s role in the organisation; and
  • Nature of relationships at work.

There are steps that employers can take that will show their employees that mental health is taken seriously and any concerns they have will be listened to. Some steps to follow could include:

  • Having Employee Assistance Programmes that offer things such as a confidential telephone line or in person counselling;
  • Making sure that all employees feel valued and that they have a voice within the company. All Managers and Senior Managers should have an open-door policy for their employees so that they are available whenever a member of staff needs to voice concerns;
  • Employers should tackle absence and help people back to work by using appropriate health services such as return to work interviews and occupational health;
  • Managers must take an active role in promoting health and safety and a healthy lifestyle themselves by having a good work/life balance, using full holiday entitlement, managing their working hours, taking lunchbreaks, etc;
  • Jobs being flexible and well-managed, for example, Managers informing employees of any changes that are likely to affect them before they come into fruition and encourage staff to ask any questions before, during and after any kind of change so they feel involved.

It is, and always has been, important that all businesses offer a genuinely supportive network with managers actively there and involved to make employees feel like they can discuss anything with them.