Libby McCaughey
about 3 years ago by Libby McCaughey

Mental Health: Tackling workplace stigmas


 “Clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. – Richard Branson.

Over the last few years mental health has become a widely talked about topic from some very high-profile names, not to mention a number of campaigns to continue to raise awareness and to educated people on mental health. Despite this, there is much to tackle when it comes to mental health in the work place.

Why do we find it more comfortable to talk about mental health from an objective point of view? Why do we find it so difficult to open up about our own experiences? Many people still put on a brave face and smile when it comes to their own mental health because they fear letting their emotions show will be seen as a sign of weakness or maybe effect their career prospects and have negative reproductions. We can understand why people are this way, these are not irrational fears, in 2017 a report showed 15% of employees who disclosed a mental health related issue faced a demotion or a dismissal. 

What are you doing to make your staff feel like it is safe to talk to you?

Did you know, 1 in 6 workers are affected by conditions such as anxiety and depression every year? According to Mind 1 in 4 people experience a mental health illness at any given time; so, the chances are, right now, while you’re reading this, someone in your office is suffering in silence. 

What can you do to shift these attitudes? How can you create safe environments where your staff feel empowered to openly talk about their issues without the fear of judgment or discrimination?

Flexibility. 60% of employees have experience mental health issues in the past year due to work. Stress, anxiety and depression can be trigged by many things depending on the individual. While someone may find presentations and meetings stressful others may fear working alone. Being flexible is a necessity, your employees health and wellbeing are paramount and in the long term this approach will only benefit your business.

Stress is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK costing on average £1,035 per employee per year. So, making some adjustments right now could help reduce absenteeism in your business.

Culture and Leadership. It’s your responsibility to not only promote good mental health but to actively take steps to create an environment where your staff feel safe talking about it. Putting in place a set of rules or policies isn’t enough, a complete culture change needs to take place in order to change the way people perceive and handle mental health. CEO's, business owners and leaders need to speak up about mental health, stopping the taboo and helping make it an issue people are comfortable discussing.  

Education and awareness. It's mandatory for organisations to train people on  new software, policies and procedures, there's little or no training on how to deal with human issues. Guidance is needed for your HR teams and Managers in order for them to appropriately deal with mental health issues. They need to be able to spot signs and symptoms within their teams and feel confident discussing it. Mind and Rethink offer amazing training programmes to help create work places where stigmas and discrimination don’t exist. 

Communication. Since the middle of the twentieth century companies have conducted annual audits to track employee performance. However today work has become so fast paced, it is less predictable, stable and repetitive. It’s important to make time for more regular meetings one to one with your employees even if its once every other week, just to check where they are, how they’re feeling and what can be done if they are struggling. 

While workplace stress is a real problem, your approach to it can make a huge difference. By following the strategies outlined above will help identify and reduce stress in the workplace. We hope you continue to learn how to tackle and talk about stress at work and if there are any great tricks you think are helpful that we have missed off, please let us know!