Are you getting support for your mental health in the workplace?

October 19, 2016

Are you getting support for your mental health in the workplace? Leading figures call for action to equate mental health with physical health.

Mental health charities and an MP have called on the Government to make sure mental health is equal to physical health in the workplace.

The call was made by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Liberal Democrat health spokesperson and long-term mental health campaigner, Norman Lamb MP, to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10.

However, a report from Business in the Community (BITC) found that mental health is still stigmatized in UK workplaces. Of the 20,000 people surveyed, three in four said they had experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives.

The report reveals that 60% of board members felt their organisation dealt well with mental health, but only 11% of workers had recently discussed mental health with their line manager, which shows the discrepancy between what employers believe and what employees actually experience.

Conclusions of the report encourage employers to invest in first aid training in mental health – currently 1 in 300 people in England are trained mental health first aiders. This recommendation is backed by large employers, including WHSmith and Unilever, which is welcome news.

As awareness grows and the stigma around mental health is reduced, and people realize that large employers like WHSmith and Unilever are backing calls to bring mental health on a par with physical health in the workplace, hopefully more managers will be trained in mental health first aid and be more sympathetic if and when an employee opens up about their mental health.

So why do employees find it so hard to talk to their employers about their mental health? It is likely that many feel their job may come into jeopardy if they are honest when they are suffering from poor mental health. The Equality Act has enabled any potential employee to not be obliged to reveal a mental health condition until after they are offered the job, and disclosure is often a source of concern for many people. However, once in the job, the pressure is on to perform well at all times and not to show weakness, so many would feel unable to talk to their line manager about issues which crop up.

Many people also do not know that once a mental health condition is disclosed employers can offer sessions with an Occupational Health expert who can discuss making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the role, this can range from flexible hours arrangements to the positioning of your work area in the office.

There are many ways to support your mental health whilst in the workplace. Talking things through with colleagues, finding a work buddy to team up with on projects, and learning to say ‘no’ if overloaded with work, are all ways which can help. If you are struggling particularly finding a psychotherapist or counsellor you can talk through your issues with outside of the work arena can help.

And, if you are finding things difficult with your mental health in the workplace, open up to your line manager in a private discussion you may well be surprised at the positive response. Present the current issues with a focus on finding solutions together that can help you manage in the workplace.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, contact Bridge today for support. We can support you in your recovery and around finding and maintaining employment.

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