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Your best guide to mental health in the workplace

With nearly a third of employees having a mental health problem in any one year, knowing how the workplace can help with good mental health is the key to a positive healthy future. Society has been taking on the importance of good mental health. Businesses are understanding the impact of mental health in the workplace, yet they are finding it hard in some cases to provide that mentally healthy environment.

Mental health businessOne area in which we can all play our part is in eliminating the stigma associated with mental health. There remains a culture in most businesses and industries about not talking about mental illness openly. Stress and depression are rarely discussed and being emotional is seen as a sign of weakness and failure.  Despite this in any given year one in four adults will suffer from a mental health condition and as a whole mental health will cost the country’s businesses £26bn.

Surely with the evidence staking up knowing some of the things that can help someone with mental health problems in the workplace could make a big difference both to them and to the workplace.

One of the most basic things is making it okay to talk about mental health in the workplace. Already people are comfortable discussing physical ailments, so try to aim for that level of comfort with mental health. Often your EAP supplier will do a presentation or a talk on the workplace so that might be a good place to get the dialogue running

Mental health is recognised by the Disability Act as a disability and as a consequence businesses have to make “reasonable adaptions”. These could be a range of things, a phased return to work, somewhere private to take medication, reduced hours the needs match the individual. However, if the message goes out that the business supports those with mental health in the same way as it might support those using wheel chairs, then there is greater trust in the business.

For those returning to work or with a long term condition, they need to continue to be self-aware of triggers and situations that make them unwell. They need to take their medication as prescribed and not be afraid to ask for help if things are not going well.  Again we all have a part to play by supporting people in their efforts to be well a work.

Creating an environment that is mentally health, is rather like creating one which is physically healthy. There are many things the company has to do and should do, but we also as individuals need to do our part both in supporting others and in having that honest conversation so that it is ok to have mental health out in the open.

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