Although it pleases me no end to say that awareness of mental health and wellness in the workplace is slowly increasing, there has never been a greater urgency to focus on employee mental health and wellbeing than right now.
Since the pandemic, mental health has suffered immensely. A phenomenal figure of over 17 million working days were lost in 2020 as a result of stress, anxiety or depression.*
Bear in mind, though, that those were only the cases that were reported as such.
One of the difficulties business owners face is that, although around one in five people struggles with mental health in the workplace, a figure which is likely to increase when we see the full impact of the pandemic, not all staff will report their absence truthfully.
In fact, research shows 90% of people have used different reasons to disguise stress-related absence, depression, and anxiety.
Health and Safety Executive Chair, Sarah Newton, recently highlighted that one of the biggest lessons from the pandemic, is that “no matter where we work or what we do, all of us can feel mentally, emotionally and psychologically vulnerable at times.”
So why do we feel the need to hide mental illness at work behind other ‘excuses’?
Is it because of embarrassment? Could it be fear of the perceived stigma that still surrounds mental health in the work environment? Or because we simply don’t understand what is happening ourselves?
As individuals, employees, and the self-employed, we owe it to ourselves to live our lives as happily and healthily as we can. No matter what it takes.
If we don’t feel able or comfortable reaching out and talking about our problems, our families and loved ones will suffer just as much. They often have to stand by and watch, without knowing what’s wrong. Let alone how they can help. And as business owners, we have a legal responsibility as well as a duty of care to our employees. We must, therefore, be more aware of how we can support mental health and wellness in the workplace in the best way for ourselves, our staff, leaders, and our management teams.
How can we effectively safeguard employee mental health?
The first step towards safeguarding employee mental health and wellness is to be more aware of the impact, effects, and signs, being mindful of the language we use, as well as our behaviours.
Understanding emotional health and wellbeing in the workplace simply has to be at the heart of our businesses.
It’s not just about understanding and awareness though. Being vulnerable, open to modelling the right behaviours, and creating a culture within the work environment where staff feel able to seek the most appropriate guidance, are crucial too.
One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is that we all saw into the lives of our co-workers, peers, and senior staff with the likes of Microsoft Team and Zoom calls. The ‘real’ human side of life was revealed, with all its wonderful challenges. From pets bombing senior meetings to children popping up from their home-schooling during your one-to-one! It was a step forward for many in recognising that nobody is actually alone in this.
Our work now is to continue that theme.
And in doing so, increase the awareness and acceptance of the need for positive change, acknowledge stress and anxiety at work, improve our lifestyles, and engage in creating safe spaces and processes for our staff to reach out and be heard. All under the umbrella of learning how to effectively manage mental health and wellness in the workplace.
According to Deloitte (2019), the average cost per employee as a result of poor mental health was between £1,475 and £2,277. If you were faced with this, wouldn’t you want to know you were doing your best for your staff, as individuals, as well as for your business?
How Space2BHeard can help your business support mental health and wellness in the workplace
Space2BHeard is a not-for-profit organisation providing high-quality counselling, psychotherapy, and wellbeing services within Hull and surrounding areas.
Our current team of 17 counsellors, psychotherapists, and trainers work with individuals, and businesses by supporting, encouraging and facilitating them to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
Everyone’s needs around mental health and wellness in the workplace are different, as are everyone’s reactions in specific situations.
This is why it is so important to seek professional help.
Our staff are trained to offer support in such areas as bereavement, divorce and separation, depression, drug and alcohol use, gambling, trauma and PTSD, food-related issues, anxiety, and work-related stress. We have recently launched a new programme of Workforce Wellbeing Services specifically aimed at working with business owners or those with responsibility for employee health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Amongst our Workforce Wellbeing Services to effectively manage mental health and wellness in the workplace, we offer the following:
- various half-day, themed, workshops aimed at raising employee awareness, providing them with tools to take away so they have coping strategies to recognise and improve their mental and emotional wellbeing. These can be virtual sessions, or delivered in your workplace.
- Support packages and training for Mental Health First Aiders. This involves a two-hour onsite session per month, along with ongoing contact and support between meetings. We know how challenging it can be to take on this level of responsibility, and to ensure that the right information and guidance is provided to staff who are in need. Signposting and resources are also available for those in this role.
- Monthly Wellbeing Events in your workplace, which include onsite presence and private bookable slots with our clinicians. These events are themed, and cover anything and everything from the importance of sleep, self-esteem and confidence, building resilience, and creating a balanced lifestyle.
- Counselling packages for employees – from an initial assessment, through six counselling sessions, and onwards to ensure the employee has resources and support.
- Workplace Managers Enhancement Programme – up to five one-hour workshops plus a one-hour consultation to ensure we bring the most relevant training to your management team. Covering such areas as conflict and relationships within the workplace, how well do you know yourself, and workplace development and culture.
- NLP workshops – from an introduction to NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) through to a three and four-day diploma in NLP, our in-house NLP trainer can tailor workshops to whatever focus and standard your business requires.
- One to one coaching sessions – for those employees who are not in need of counselling, but are performing below expectations, lacking motivation, finding it difficult to return to work after an absence, and more. We are happy to discuss specific requirements for each employee, as it is in all our best interests to deliver effective and appropriate coaching for each individual.
I would love your support, what do I need to do now?
Space2Bheard has formed powerful partnerships with local businesses, other non-profit organisations offering associated services, and with Hull City Council as a recognised expert in the field of mental health support.
We have a dedicated team champion responsible for signposting relevant resources, and seeking additional support, where needed, for our clients.
Obviously, if you choose to work with Space2BHeard, it is important that we completely understand your needs and specific requirements.
As you will have gathered, we do not believe in delivering mental and emotional health and wellbeing training, or counselling to individuals, using a one size fits all approach. We will tailor our services accordingly. So, the best thing to do is make contact with us. If you are interested in learning more about how Space2BHeard can help you with awareness of emotional and mental health and wellness in the workplace, as a business owner, or as a staff member who would like your employer to become more involved, please arrange a free one-hour consultation (via Zoom or in-person) with our Director of Health and Wellbeing, Gemma Wardell at firstname.lastname@example.org. We know you will agree that your business and your staff are in safe hands here at Space2bHeard.
*Health and Safety Executive. Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain 2021. Available from: hse.gov.uk