Today, 13th May, marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. While we have made lots of advancements in this area, mental health is still often stigmatised in the workplace.
In fact, new research has found that most workers would not discuss mental health with their manager.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) surveyed 400 employees. Their results indicated that mental health was still a “taboo” subject in the workplace.
Duncan Spencer of the IOSH said the findings were “deeply worrying”. To rectify the problem he believes that employers should create more open lines of communication.
This study is not the first the highlight the lack of discussion around mental health in a professional setting
A poll of 2,000 adults by Mental Health First Aid England and Bauer Media found only one in 10 would feel comfortable speaking about issues such as eating disorders or postnatal depression while at work.
Chief executive Simon Blake said: “Despite the increased awareness around mental health in the workplace, employees are telling us that there is still a significant gap in how we think and act about physical and mental health at work.”
So, what can employers do to improve the situation?
Promote a healthy work environment
On a basic level, you should have policies in place that support a good work-life balance. Ensure employees are only working their assigned hours, encourage people to take their breaks and be open to remote working requests.
Practice what you preach
Lead by example. If you want to create a culture where employees can be honest about their mental health then you need to promote a kind and caring culture. Awareness training can also contribute to a supportive and open community.
The benefits of fresh air and exercise cannot be overlooked. Encourage your employees to get involved in physical events like cycling, running or yoga. This can be great for increasing morale and supporting staff wellbeing.
Have support in place
Clear support structures should be established in every workplace. An employee should know who they can turn to if they need help. It’s also a good idea to promote alternative options such as over the phone therapists if people do not want to involve their colleagues.