Staggeringly, one in six of us reports experiencing a common mental health problem each week. In total, approximately 70 million workdays - 12.7% of all sick days - are lost every year because of mental health problems, equating to a cost in the region of £2.4 billion for companies.
There are several ways we can improve mental health at work, both as an employee and as an employer.
A workplace’s culture can have a significant impact on our mental health. No one wants to be in a strict regimental office where you’re afraid to speak up. Having an ethical culture in your work environment relies on trust, honesty and fairness from both employees and employers. After all, a happy and healthy workforce is a productive workforce. It’s also important to give staff recognition when it’s well-deserved, helping to boost morale.
By being too close to other workers and being in a crowded office, an employee may find themselves becoming agitated and stressed. Lighting is also important. It’s mainly an issue in the winter when there are fewer daylight hours, meaning that you should ensure your space offers plenty of natural light.
The workplace should give energetic resilience back to the process of innovation and production. Creating spaces where people are comfortable, connected and supported are key to maintaining a culture of vitality. We need to feel like ourselves in order to do good work. That means designing work environments that aren’t sterile and stuffy, but that incorporate personality while still being supremely functional.
This is another factor which requires both employees and employers to respond. If an employee has a mental health issue, they must know who they can approach regarding the matter if they want to. Putting the shoe on the other foot, employers must keep an eye out for any noticeable changes in a person.
A company should make sure that they encourage people to talk as it is often a difficult matter to discuss. They should also develop an individual action plan to help the person. Of course, most companies won’t have qualified members of staff to give in-depth advice in the way a GP could, but it is possible to reassure people and point them in the right direction too.
By following the above points, your workplace can feel confident that they are doing their bit to help lower the number of people suffering from illnesses, both mental and physical.
Written by Managing Consultant Charlie Simpkin (Head of the South-West).