A week containing World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a good time to remind employers that those who promote good mental health not only help their staff but benefit from higher levels of productivity, morale and retention.
Aiming to help them to address mental health issues in the workplace, the charity Business in the Community (BITC) has identified three key actions that it believes companies should be taking.
The first is to talk about mental health and break the culture of silence that surrounds the issue. BITC is encouraging businesses to demonstrate their commitment to changing how mental health is addressed in the workplace by signing the “Time to Change” employer pledge.
Secondly, BITC wants companies to invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees, and provide appropriate first aid training in the area for line managers. Both of these calls to action have been previously advocated by Business in the Community, and the charity claims that case studies confirm they are still pertinent and effective.
The third — and most innovative — action focuses on addressing the gap between leadership perception and employee experience.
This, according to the BITC Mental Health at Work Report 2016 (available at wellbeing.bitc.org.uk), requires employers to look inwards and identify what their own gap is between awareness and action.
The BITC report shows that 77% of employees have experienced poor mental health, and that 62% of those cited work as a contributing factor. It also reveals that managers are under-equipped and unsupported when it comes to responding to mental health in the workplace.
Commenting on the report, Emma Mamo of the charity Mind said that the survey of 20,000 people provides further evidence of the scale of stress and poor mental health at work.