World Mental Health Day 2023
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Each year the 10th October marks World Mental Health Day. The aim of the day is to raise awareness about mental health issues as well as promoting positive mental health practices in the workplace. MHFA’s recent 2023 reports show concerning mental health statistics:

  • As many as one in five UK workers report felling incapable of managing stress and pressure in the workplace.
  • Poor mental health accounts for more than half of work-related illness in the UK.
  • Around 51% of long-term sick leave is due to stress, depression, or anxiety.

Reasons for Poor Mental Health Amongst UK Employees

Poor mental health can affect anyone, at any walk of life. Although mental health is linked to brain chemistry or medication, certain factors in someone’s life can make them more vulnerable to experiencing poor mental health withing a workplace.

Employees are reporting an increased workplace intensity and a significant pressure at work. This has resulted in 55% of workers feeling that their work is getting more intense and demanding. Furthermore, 61% of workers say they feel exhausted at the end of most workdays.

Although work can have a negative effect on mental health, poor mental health is not just confined to a workplace. Health issues, economic struggles, relationship breakdowns, grief, family problems, and other personal struggles can all contribute towards poor mental health.

Workplace Wellbeing and Leadership

Mental health struggles can affect all employees of a business, no matter their seniority. Deloitte reports that 64% of managers have considered quitting their job for another that better supports their wellbeing. Additionally, 70% of managers cited organisational barriers to supporting staff wellbeing. This includes company policy, heavy workload, unsupportive workplace culture, and not being equipped with the right skills. As a result, as many as a third of managers feel out of their depth when it comes to supporting their team with mental health concerns.

How to Improve Poor Mental Health Amongst UK Employees

As it stands almost half of UK workers are ‘running on empty,’ with burnout, mental ill health, and work-related stress costing the UK economy £28 billion annually.

29% of managers state that more support and training from their employer would help them to better support their teams. Many employees feel they cannot come forth to their managers due to stigma or due to concern that their manager will not know how to help. As little as 10% of employees are currently seeking mental health support. With better support towards mental health in the workplace, employers can observe:

  • Lower rates of risk of work-related ill mental health.
  • Increases in employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • Increased productivity
  • A positive and open mental health culture in the workplace

What to Do if You are Experiencing Poor Mental Health

If you are suffering from poor mental health, it’s important to seek help. This can be making small changes to your everyday life to reduce some of your symptoms or get professional help from your GP or another medical professional. Although it may feel difficult to do so, it’s always helpful to talk to your employer if you are struggling from poor mental health.

It’s important to make sure you are taking care of yourself. This includes getting good rest by aiming for seven to eight hours. It also helps to eat a balanced and healthy diet and try to avoid alcohol and other substances. It’s important to make sure you have a balanced relationship with work, and that your work allows you to spend time with loved ones and do activities that you enjoy.

Aim to take regular breaks throughout the workday, especially if your work involved a lot of screen time. Working for long hours with no break can cause a lot of stress. If this is something you need help with, make sure you speak to your manager for further support.

Your Rights Regarding Mental Health at Work

There are several laws in place to protect employees from poor mental health in the workplace.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination regarding mental health problems. This means that employers or fellow co-workers cannot discriminate against those with mental health struggles during the hiring process or exclude anyone from the opportunity of promotion. Employers also have a legal responsibility to ensure that all staff do not experience harassment, victimisation and do not facing bullying in any way due to their health.

It is fundamental for employers should make reasonable accommodations for employees with mental health conditions. Examples of reasonable amendments are changing work hours or working from home, providing additional support in the form of counselling, or altering their work duties.

It’s also vital that employers remain confidential regarding their employee’s mental health status. The only time an employer should disclose any information regarding an employees’ mental health is on a need-to-know basis, when making accommodations or for the employees’ health and safety.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their employees. This includes protecting employees from stress-related illnesses.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This act reinforces the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It states that employers should assess and manage the risk to health and safety from stress at work. Employers have a duty to carry out relevant risk assessments to identify any hazards to an employees’ health and safety. Companies with a workforce greater than five people must record any significant findings.

If the risk assessment highlights any improvements needing to be made, the employer is obligated to make regular checks to ensure that improvements are happening.

Taking Action on Work Mental Health Day 2023

On this years’ World Mental Health Day 2023 take some time to consider what action can be taken to improve your mental health in the workplace and how you can advocate for others. By becoming familiar with your rights and protections, you can go informed into a conversation with your employer if you are facing any mental health struggles in the workplace. By talking to your employer, you can help make them aware of any reasonable adjustments that can be implemented to support their staff.

Promoting mental health awareness in the workplace can initiate transformation, whether by providing counselling sessions, ensuring resources are easily accessible, or scheduling regular check-ins with your employers or managers. Every small effort contributes significantly.

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