Work and Wellbeing · 14 May 2018

Employers notice a shift in attitudes towards staff mental health issues

More employers are seeing an increase of staff approaching them with mental health issues.

Over the last two years, business leaders have noticed a rise of employees who come forward with mental health issues. A new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) reveals that four in ten directors have been approached by staff regarding their mental wellbeing.

This trend has increased by 12 per cent from 2017 and additionally, 42 per cent of employees have booked time off work due to mental health problem affecting their routines.

Commenting on the shift in attitudes, Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “While mental health is no longer the taboo subject it was, much work remains to be done. Directors must take to heart the importance of their workforce’s mental health, just as they would their physical health.

“The bottom line is this: the workplace shouldn’t be somewhere that people feel they have to hide the problems they are facing. In fact, it should be one of the places where help is most easily found.”

Poor relationships between employees and their line managers, alongside heavy workload, appear to be the top factors having a larger impact on the UK workforce’s wellbeing.

Closely behind is having a poor relationship with colleagues, the data revealed. Larger companies were also likely to say that relationships with line management needed improving.

“Larger organisations need to make sure that good practice spreads through every layer of their organisation. In smaller firms, where capacity for formal training is often limited, managers must still show willing to engage with the issue.

“We want businesses to see tackling mental health not as a drain on resources but as a positive investment in the wellbeing of their staff.”

However, only one in five business leaders said they could offer mental health training for management.

Since launching its Mental Health in the Workplace campaign in 2017, the IoD has joined forces with several organisations to raise awareness of the issue.

Likewise, a similar campaign was launched in order to end the stigma around mental health in the workplace.

This is Me has gone national with The Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham collaborating to encourage more employees to talk more openly about their mental health and wellbeing.

The Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham are working together in This is Me, mental health campaign.

Initiated by Barclays, and developed by charity The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, This is Me grew across businesses throughout the City of London, and has now been adopted by firms in the North West of England.

Mark McLane, Barclays Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said: “Not only have we seen an increase in the confidence of our colleagues to speak out – over 200 have now shared their personal stories of mental health and wellbeing – but through partnering with the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, and other businesses like PwC, nearly one million employees have now been reached by the campaign.”

There are three strands of the This is Me campaign:

  1. This is Me storytelling campaign asks employees to share their personal experiences with colleagues via video/blog. The This is Me storytelling campaign has already reached 765,000 employees.
  1. The Green Ribbon campaign involves employees and public figures wearing green ribbons, building a visible movement of support to help #endthestigma; showing those struggling that there is support and that they are not alone; and creating inclusive workplace cultures and encouraging people to share their story. During Mental Health Awareness week 200,000 green ribbons will be worn across over 250 organisations across the whole UK.
  2. Wellbeing in the City is a new e-learning tool developed by Samaritans and funded by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, to help promote wellbeing and resilience and share expertise in active listening with employees.

The Lord Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Around one in four Londoners will experience mental health problems during their lives. That’s why I wanted to let Londoners know how they can show their support this Mental Health Awareness Week.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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