There is growing awareness among employers that workers’ mental health is integral to their wellbeing. New research from HR and diversity consultancy, the Clear Company, suggests that HR professionals will, on average, oversee 15 staff with mental health conditions each year. Information and communication are vital to tackling this often unseen but serious issue.
James Routledge, founder of Sanctus – the organisation dedicated to changing the perception of mental health – recently said that while there are good intentions and more open-mindedness surrounding the issue in the workplace, “businesses don’t know where to start.” Part of the problem is the reluctance of employees to come forward with their concerns.
A survey conducted by research consultancy Comres for Radio 5 Live earlier this year discovered that 49 per cent of people would be unlikely to go to their employer about a mental health issue. An important first step is therefore to make clear that help is available. Assigning each member of staff a designated ‘buddy’ within the workplace with whom they can chat about their professional and personal progress is one way to help employees feel looked after and valued – making it more likely they will stay.
Clear communication with employees through events such as workshops and seminars is also crucial. Regular training sessions can help ensure workers are up to speed on the latest policies and safety points. Training managers to be vigilant in spotting the symptoms of stress will help to pick up problems, while employees, for their part, need to be mindful of their own wellbeing. Admitting early on that they are struggling and need help is beneficial to the whole company.