More than ever before, mental health is a topic for open discussion in the media, within our social circles and of course at work. Mental health and wellbeing is all about how we think, feel and behave, and is usually caused by a reaction to a difficult life event, which can be caused or made worse by work-related issues. In particular, working in isolation away from managers and colleagues can add stress to a workforce that is already facing a significant amount of pressure.
The scale of the problem
Globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) – led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that 12.8 million working days were lost due to stress, depression or anxiety during 2018-19. According to the mental health awareness charity, Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
Clearly, supporting employees to manage their own mental health and creating a working environment that enables all to flourish is a matter of urgency for business leaders and health and safety managers.
Risks to mental health in the workplace
According to the WHO, the following can trigger or exacerbate mental health issues in the work place:
- Inadequate health and safety policies
- Poor communication and management practices
- Limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work
- Low levels of support for employees
- Inflexible working hours
- Unclear tasks or organizational objectives
Building a positive workplace mental health culture
Unfortunately the workplace can intensify a pre-existing condition and can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse. Whether work is the cause of a health issue or intensifies an underlining issue, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employers and provide adequate mental health and wellbeing support.
RoSPA’s position on mental health at work is to encourage employers to adopt a holistic approach to managing the risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff. There is also a need to improve the level of access which employees have to suitable occupational health services and support.
While this is well developed in many businesses, many workers, particularly those in many SMEs, still don’t have access to a suitably trained or empowered occupational health professional. RoSPA’s suite of mental health courses can help you manage this within your organization and build a work place environment that is supportive to those experiencing mental health difficulties.
Mental Health Courses
The first step is for the leadership to understand the importance of promoting a supportive environment for their staff. All directors and managers should have some form of mental health and wellbeing training. Among the senior team at any organization, a good starting point would be to have at least one person who is trained as a wellbeing coordinator.
The Workplace Wellbeing Coordinators course is suitable for all professional groups which could include; wellbeing leads, health and safety practitioners, human resource professionals, senior managers and staff who have been tasked with the company’s wellbeing.
To support and promote a positive wellbeing program it’s also necessary to have employees at all levels invested and a range of people trained to help support colleagues. Our Workplace Wellbeing Champions course teaches learners how effective communication can support health messages, to promote improvements in the health and wellbeing of others and understand the impact of behavior change of improving an individual’s health and wellbeing.
The HSE states that it is recommended that if you work in a company with 5-50 workers, there should be at least one person trained in mental health first aid. You should then need another first aider for every 50 workers after that.
Our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses will teach your workers how to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, as well as offer initial help and guide a person towards support. These courses are all about teaching you to listen, evaluate and respond, even in a crisis and has the potential to stop a crisis from happening.
In addition, we offer several mental health virtual classroom services to address the mental wellbeing of employees who are working in isolation, remotely, or at home. A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that allows for live interaction between the tutor and the learners as they are participating in learning activities. In other words, the virtual classroom is a shared online space where learners and tutors work together simultaneously.
Above all it is important to remember that we all have mental health which can fluctuate and change over time. It would be unacceptable for any organization not to make adjustments for someone’s physical wellbeing, so the same ought to apply to mental health and wellbeing. For more information and advice on our suite of mental health courses, please visit our website, call us on +44 (0)121 248 2044 or e-mail.