Insurance 28 March 2017

A guide to supporting employees experiencing mental health problems

Mental health problems
Mental health problems in the workplace have had a longstanding stigma attached

Here, workplace wellbeing expert, and managing director of Health Assured, David Price, provides advice for small business owners to help support employees experiencing mental health problems.

A new poll conducted by mental health charity Mind suggested that employees feel as though they cannot talk about mental health problems in the workplace. Three-quarters of people said they would not be likely to seek support from their manager if they were experiencing a mental health problem.

With a certain degree of stigma still existing surrounding the disclosure and discussion of mental health, the cycle of poor mental health may well be perpetuated if employers and their management teams don’t learn how to support employees that are experiencing mental health problems.

Mental health, particularly in the workplace, has had a longstanding stigma attached to it, whereby employees have felt unable or embarrassed to come forward and admit they are struggling with stress, anxiety or other mental health issues stages.

Mental illness may not be as overtly obvious as a physical illness such as the common cold, but is nonetheless an important issue that should be tackled head on. Letting employees struggle at work is unacceptable, as employers have a responsibility to protect and safeguard the health and wellbeing of their staff.

In this day and age no one should have to suffer in silence, mental health issues are something that a lot of people experience and if managed effectively can be prevented from escalating to a point where it becomes uncontrollable.

Open workplace culture

Management should ensure that they create an open workplace culture when it comes to employee mental health to encourage members of staff to come forward and speak with them openly about any issues they are having both inside and outside of work that may affect their productivity during working hours.

Assessing how mental health is discussed at work is an important part of creating an open culture when it comes to employee mental health and wellbeing. If it is perceived that employers are not taking stock of employee mental health in the workplace, or approach it in a negative light, then employees will not feel comfortable in coming forward with any issues they are facing.

Having strong leadership who demonstrate an open and honest working culture, involving their employees in key decision-making, will go a long way in increasing employee engagement and establishing a workplace that values positive mental health.

If employees feel uncomfortable talking with their management about health issues, the company should provide access to a telephone advice service for all employees to seek confidential and professional guidance on any issues they are facing including mental health concerns.

In this situation where employees are feeling overwhelmed by things around them, providing them with some solace by reassuring them that help is at hand and they are not alone can make all the difference.

Good mental health and proper support for those with mental illness has always been a priority for Health Assured and show our support to people dealing with mental health issues, Health Assured will be teaming up with employment law consultancy Peninsula by signing a pledge with Time to Change, which is a programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink.

David Price is managing director of Health Assured

These eight health and wellbeing apps could help to tackle mental health problems in your workplace

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