(Pictured above) Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing, ACAS
It’s clear that good mental health, and how it contributes to our wellbeing, relationships and work, is high on the agenda of UK plc.
This has happened thanks to increased media coverage with stories of lived experience, and the irrefutable business case linking wellbeing to productivity.
Yet, there remains a gap between the chatter and the action, in society, but also in the workplace.
Two years on from the Government commissioned, Stevenson Farmer mental health and work report, only 40% of businesses have trained their managers in mental health; and in the last 12 months, two thirds of employees have felt stress and anxiety due to work.
Having worked in this field for over 25 years, I am well aware that there isn’t a simple or quick fix. However, while there is still plenty to be done, it is important that we look at moving the issue from chat to action.
Transparency and conversations are the start of addressing perhaps the biggest challenge of all, the stigma of mental health.
It is important to raise awareness of the wide and varying spectrum of mental health and to train managers to spot the signs of common mental health issues. These range from anxiety and depression to more complex conditions, such as bi-polar disorder. Facilitating open discussions with staff can help them recognise their own stress triggers and how to approach their colleagues if they have concerns.
Speak to your staff, understand what they need to help them thrive at work, as individuals and as teams. Draw upon skills and knowledge from across the organisations to create a plan.
Be realistic about what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it and make it sustainable in the long term. Clarify who is accountable and who is responsible and how your plan connects to wider business outcomes. Set three clear wellbeing actions and seek feedback from the workforce at every step of the way.
Use your plan as the foundation for demonstrating your commitment to mental health at work. Set the tone by being as open as you can about your own sense of wellbeing. Act on your intentions, deliver your actions, and keep them on the agenda, monitoring as you go.
Transparency and conversations are the start of addressing perhaps the biggest challenge of all, the stigma of mental health. Everyone in the workplace has a role to play, every day: employers, managers and individuals. The action plan is there to support and back this up to help improve everyone’s mental health.
Everyone in the workplace has a role to play, every day: employers, managers and individuals.