In this week’s Blog post I’ll be exploring the importance of identifying mental health issues both at home and in the work place, the ways in which we can identify them and the help and assistance we can provide as individuals.
As a therapist, I help many clients overcome mental health issues and as it happens, anxiety and hypnotherapy are the most popular search terms relating to hypnosis. Sadly, there is a culture of fear and silence around mental health issues which is costly to businesses.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a broad topic that can be defined as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Key Facts and Statistics
Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year according to the research published by the Centre for Mental Health. Over 70 million working days are lost each year to mental health issues.
Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: “At any one time, one in five working people will have a mental health difficulty. Many will never get any help. Some end up losing their jobs while for others being at work is an important part of recovering from a mental health problem.
According to mind.org.uk more than 1 in 5 people (21%) of people agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them. 14 percent of people agreed that they had resigned and 42 percent had considered resigning when asked how work place stress affected them.
Over 56 percent of employers have said that they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but, don’t feel that have the right training or guidance.
Spotting The Signs
There are many reasons why mental health has become such a huge issue in the workplace today but, one factor is that many cases go unrecognized until they become severe. Mental health problems can be more difficult to identify than physical illness and it’s important to spot the signs. Below we list some signs to look out for:
Emotional – Employees suffering with mental health issues may become more emotional, demonstrate a lack of confidence in their abilities or become sensitive to criticism.
Behavioral – This could include an increase in absences from the work place, arriving late, not taking lunch breaks, becoming more introverted or extroverted, withdrawing from office banter or missing deadlines. Generally acting out of character.
Cognotive – You may notice a lack of concentration in an employee suffering with mental health issues within the workplace, they may make more mistakes than usual or there may be an unexplained drop in their performance at work.
Physical – Employees who are stressed can exhibit physical symptoms as well. This may be a lack of appetite, a reduction or increase in weight, they may experience more colds or headaches or they may be tired more often and look as if they care less about their appearance.
Business – At a business level it’s important to look at staff turnover or an increase in absenteeism. There may be a decrease in productivity or staff morale.
It’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules to spotting the signs of mental health issues and just because someone may be exhibiting one or more of the signs above it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are suffering with mental health issues.
What can we do to help?
It’s important to promote an open and caring culture within the workplace that makes staff feel supported and looked after. There are many practical ways to achieve this, below are some examples we’ve listed.
· Promote an open culture around mental health and raise awareness within the workplace.
· Use posters in communal areas and staff newsletters to help raise awareness and open lines of communication.
· Train staff and management in mental health awareness, if all staff have an increased awareness of mental health it may make others feel more comfortable and encourage them to come forward with their problems.
· Develop a mental health policy within the workplace.
· Allow managers to have time in their schedule to work with their employees. This makes identifying changes in behaviour easier to spot.
· Provide accessible guidance on how to manage stress.
· If possible allow flexible working times or working from home.
· Seek the advice of health care professionals or make contact with organisations such as mind.org.uk
· Create peer to peer support systems within the workplace.
· Provide training and resources for manager and employees.
· Develop a return to work plan, that allows for a phased return to work.
· Continue to check in with employees.
We hope you’ve found the content of this blog useful. An open approach culture to mental health issues will mean that fewer people will suffer in silence which will lead to a more motivated and positive workforce and identifying issues early on could benefit your business and the overall wellbeing of your staff.
If you’re affected by any of the issues detailed within this blog please feel free to contact me and I’ll happily help you to find a suitable therapist within your area.
Jason Simmons is one half of mapping minds and the author of the upcoming book: Tranceformation.