Mental Health issues in the workplace - stress

Mar 14, 2021

“The sheer numbers of people developing problems – and some may not be fully-fledged or reach the threshold for diagnosis – will escalate,”

Roshan das Nair, Institute of Mental Health

You may have seen many headlines discussing the UK’s Mental Health Crisis. You’ve probably only really tuned in and out of reports of the difficulties the UK is facing and how they are expected to worsen. You’ve probably grown a little tired, having only have heard but not really listened about, of the ‘crisis’. You’ve potentially pondered how on earth it could affect you.

By no means does this mean you’re a bad person, without understanding on the topic how could you be expected to be concerned? You do need to be though. The current mental health landscape in the UK is really quite precarious and lockdowns and pandemics have only hinted at the terrible damage they are going to be dealing as we are all slowly released from our houses.

So, to bring the conversation home for you, we thought we would look at some facts regarding mental health issues in the workplace. Hopefully in addressing these statistics you will begin to see how mental health in the workplace is of vital importance and, as an offshoot, begin to really focus on what is meant by the Mental Health Crisis.

1. Mental Health issues cost employers up to £42 billion last year alone

In their 2017 completed on behalf of the UK government, Stevenson/Farmer concluded that ‘[their] work has revealed that the UK is facing a mental health challenge at work that is much larger than we had thought.’ In the same report they indicated that a cost of between £33-42 billion is lost per year by UK businesses as a result of mental health issues.

In the report, they attribute up to 50% of this huge loss to what they dub ‘presenteeism’. Instead of being absent, employees who are physically in the workplace but whose mental health issues mean they are significantly less productive.

2. Only 13% of employees would be comfortable discussing a mental health issue in the workplace

A survey of 2000 British workers indicated that those employees would be happier and more comfortable discussing sex with colleagues than their mental health. The stigma of mental health issues and concerns about the impact of disclosing mental health issues upon a career are both frequently cited reasons for unwillingness to discuss mental health issues in the workplace.

Religion is a hugely contentious issue, and yet 19% of employees asked in the survey felt comfortable discussing religion. Consider the potential for direct confrontation in discussing religion, and yet religion is considered a more approachable topic. In fact, 30% felt comfortable discussing the breakup of a relationship, more than double the number who would discuss their mental health needs. In fact, a CV Library survey revealed that 64% of employees feared being judged by their direct managers if discussing their mental health.

3. 89% of workers with mental health issues report it impacting upon their working lives

In a survey by jobsite, CV Library, 14.1% of respondents considered themselves to have amental health issue. Of these respondents, 89% then said that their mental health issues affected them in the workplace. This ranged from pre-existing issues directly impacting upon their working life or even their workplace affecting their mental health.

4. Mental Health Issues are the number 1 cause of sickness absences in the UK.

Nearly half of all long-term absence/sick leave in the UK is attributed to mental health issues. That on its own is a distressing enough statistic, but those suffering with mental health issues in the workplace are statistically more likely to hide the real reason they require sick leave. Time To Change found that 95% of those suffering with stress give a different reason when calling in sick.

5. Programmes addressing Mental Health Issues in the workplace can present a return of interest of up to 800%

In all studies presented, particularly that of Stevenson/Farmer, the findings lead the conclusion that considerable work needs to be undertaken in order to address mental health issues in the workplace. In fact, they ‘found that a manager mental health training programme could lead to a significant reduction in work-related sickness absence, with an associated return on investment of £9.98 for each pound spent on such training’.

The better equipped the leadership and management of a business to identify, discuss and support mental health issues in the workplace, the greater the potential financial return on the investment in equipping those team members.

Thriving Communities

No matter the mental health issues in the workplace, businesses can create successful and thriving communities. Yes, there is a need to address pre-existing issues for staff. To be able to offer the right support. However, the matter runs considerably deeper.

Addressing mental health in the workplace incorporates creating a safe place within which to discuss mental health, providing proactive relief to employees in order to support their mental health needs, being able to spot the tell-tale signs of a colleague who is struggling and the best ways to support them. It truly is a huge area. And yet this is more than simply being kind to peers and employees.

There is a genuine financial benefit to addressing mental health issues in the workplace. Toxic environments breed problems, but a supportive workplace is one which equips and emboldens staff members to go ahead and achieve. In doing so, mental health-conscious workplaces will run at higher efficiency with greater production – the outcome, greater potential profits. It is statistically proven that investment in addressing mental health issues in the workplace will have an extremely significant return on investment.

As we have discussed in our article on the impact of the lockdowns and pandemic, the situation over the last year and a half has created a severe worsening of the mental health crisis. As people return to the workplace, they are inevitably going to be bringing them new or worsened mental health issues. Are you prepared for this?

Or perhaps you operate in largely male-centric environment, as we discussed in this article that in itself comes with a variety of issues that require addressing. Are you prepared for those issues?

If you feel that you aren’t prepared, if you’re interested to know even a little more, we are here to help. At Mental Health First Aid, we offer training to ensure you and your employees are prepared to tackle the difficult challenges that mental health issues in the workplace can cause. We offer a range of course lengths which train you in a variety of areas to do with Mental Health, for example becoming a Mental Health First Aider with our 2 day course.

Place yourself and your business ahead of the curve, contact us today!

We can help

Based in Wolverhampton, Mental Health Midlands is a first-class training provider supporting businesses in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Walsall and the Black Country. We provide recognised course in mental health such as two-day courses to become Mental Health First Aiders to basic entry level half day mental health courses to aid understanding of a misunderstood area. We help businesses to overcome mental health issues and break the stigmas around mental health in the workplace.

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