Why employee mental health is your responsibility

African wellbeing Sheffield healthMental health is at the forefront of our minds and corporate agenda significantly as it directly impacts productivity and the bottom line.

In a report commissioned by The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the extent of the mental health crisis in England is at a ‘terrifying’ level. An alarming two-fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment are forced to resort to emergency or crisis services. Furthermore, England is “in the grip of a mental health crisis” because of the Covid pandemic.

NHS England report that mental health problems represent the biggest single cause of disability in the UK.

The Centre for Mental Health claim up to 10 million Brits could need mental health support after the pandemic ends.

We’ve fought with lockdowns, face coverings and mask mandates, social isolation, (mis)communication of COVID-19, remote working, uncertainty about the future, and mistrust. Supporting employee mental health and wellbeing has become a significant priority for workplace morale and motivation. Employees are seriously seeking support with mental health needs.

It’s your opportunity

Employers who don’t take action when employees request additional mental health support often follow a similar philosophy with all other employee requests.

Employers in 2022 will need to address burnout and other mental health-related issues head-on to protect their staff. An excellent mental health and wellbeing package that includes mental health awareness training, regular check-ins, and even online 1-2-1 therapy for job seekers and current employees alike will be vital.

We can no longer ignore mental health concerns

In a Forbes.com article that surveyed workers and CEOs in the USA, most agree that poor employee mental health negatively impacts productivity. When we experience physical pain, we typically get in touch with a GP. In comparison, employees tend to keep it to themselves when they experience burnout, depression, isolation, stress, or anxiety.

Mental wellbeing problems at work cost the UK economy £34.9bn last year, says Centre for Mental Health.

Businesses that dismiss the issue or undermine the mental health of their employees risk not only the wellbeing of their employees but also the profitability and productivity of their business.

“The person you report to is more important than your family doctor – Bob Chapman, CEO Barry Wehmiller.”

Furthermore, the risk for small business owners’ mental health as half still live in fear of future lockdowns.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) recommend all employers give mental health training for managers.

The independent guideline committee, made up of mental health experts, employers, professionals from across the NHS, local authority members, and lay members, recommended when offering mental health training for managers, employers should consider including:

  • How to discuss mental wellbeing with an employee
  • Information about mental health and wellbeing
  • How to identify the early warning signs of poor mental wellbeing
  • Where to access resources on mental wellbeing
  • Raising awareness of the stigma associated with poor mental wellbeing
  • Continuous monitoring of mental wellbeing in the workplace

Business leaders must address these issues.

Diverse opinions on mental health in the workplace

Typically fall into three other areas:

  1. It’s not our role or responsibility
  2. Aware that it’s a problem but don’t know where to get help.
  3. Think they are doing enough by training some mental health first aiders but don’t understand how deep the issue goes

Wellbeing consultancy

Most employers want to help and support but don’t necessarily know where to start. Many consider and wonder whether having an employee assistance program (EAP) is sufficient?

Before the pandemic, mental health was discussed but not as openly as today. Many employers who offer an EAP are often poorly communicated to employees and underutilised in some organisations.

Between 2.5 – 16 per cent of employees use their EAP at least once a year. With the average around 5 per cent, according to research by Dr Zofia Bajorek at the Work Foundation. The most common reason for providing an EAP was “seen as good employment practice”.

Securing the services of a wellbeing practitioner for your people

This suggestion merits your attention if you wish to support your staff — and want their productivity to soar. While mental health and wellbeing services aren’t always straightforward and the products and services vary considerably by the provider, business leaders should see this as an opportunity to provide something meaningful to their employees’ wellbeing.

For better or worse, this is a time in our business culture where helping an employee with their mental health is not just an employer’s responsibility. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that your organisation cares for your people.

The evidence is clear to us that all employers doing what they can to help their workforce have improved their employee attraction and recruitment.
Increased employee retention, most importantly, productivity, attitude, and loyalty.

I hope you agree that your people are worth it in the current economic and work environment.

Reach out now and find out how your organisation can benefit from scheduling regular wellbeing support for your employees.