October 10th of this year marks World Mental Health Day, a global day for mental health education and awareness. The conversation around mental health is changing. But there is still so much that needs to be done. Poor mental health can have a devastating impact on businesses and of course the employees themselves.
Mental health disorders are becoming more common and given that we spend upwards of eight hours a day in the workplace, it’s time employers start to take accountability.
But how many of us feel like our mental health is being supported in the office from nine to five? Office furniture suppliers, DBI Furniture, wanted to find out and asked over 2,000 people if they felt like their employer could do more to support their mental health and wellbeing.
The results showed us that:
- Just under half (48%) of respondents said that they would like more mental health support from their employer on some level
- 51% of women responded their employer could do a lot more, compared to 46% of men
- 53% of 18-34 need more mental health support from their employer
Millennial men want more support
That’s not all the results show. When we dig down further into the data, we can see discrepancies depending on the age and gender of the respondents.
The greatest difference was between the ages of participants. Millennials – those responding who were aged between 18 and 34 – were shown to want more support from their employer on some level, with a total of 53% saying yes. On the other hand, those considered to be in Generation X and older – aged between 45 and 64+ – were less likely to ask for support, with just 46% saying the same.
What was interesting was when the numbers were broken down by both age and gender. Millennial men were shown to want more support at work than women, if only by a slight margin. 53% of young men responding yes, compared to 52% of women. While some will say this is a tiny difference, we see it as more men embracing the recent changes surrounding their mental health, and not being afraid to speak up for more about what they need.
How to give more mental health support
At the end of the day, regardless of whether one person in your business wants more help or 100 people do, it’s vitally important that employers are doing their bit to make sure their staff feel supported and cared for when it comes to their mental health. Because there are some truly hard-hitting statistics out there, for example, The Mental Health Foundation has found:
- 1 in 6.8 people are experiencing some kind of mental health problem in the workplace
- Women who are in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to experience a common mental health problem compared to full-time employed men
- 12.7% sickness absence days can be attributed to mental health conditions
One more fact for you? Did you know that focusing on improving mental health in your workplace could help save UK businesses around £8 billion a year? If that’s not a reason to find out how you can help, we don’t know what is.
1. Learn what you need to recognise
Unfortunately there is still a great amount of stigma surrounding mental health and talking about it openly, which of course, creates a vicious cycle where people bottle up their feelings and end up worse.
So it’s important that those in management within your business are trained in what to look out for, as not everyone will feel comfortable with approaching their manager and opening up the conversation. Sending anyone who wants to learn on a Mental Health First Aid course will ensure there are plenty of people who know what to look out for, and how to approach those they are worried about.
2. Have policies in place
It’s not enough to just say you are going to do more; you actually need to follow through and have effective policies in place that will help. If you already have these in place, make sure you are reviewing them on a regular basis. If not, it’s time to get to work.
You need policies in place to ensure that people are protected if they have to take time off due to a mental health issue, something that many still don’t feel comfortable doing. You’ll also need something in place to prevent discrimination, such as bullying and harassment, which people could be worried about hindering their career progression.
3. Focus on the work-life balance
It’s not just a buzzword. Although work-life balance has become more prominent recently, it has always played an essential part in reducing stress and helping to prevent burnout. Flexibility regarding working hours is a huge part of this. Flex-time – where people are allowed to adjust their start and end times – can give employees greater control over their commute, can allow for more family time, and the chance to attend appointments without losing pay.
And while you may not be able to stop people from taking their work home with them or checking their emails at the weekend, make sure they know that this is not your policy and do everything you can to deter them. Make sure the focus is on them and their family once they’re off the clock.
4. Offer wellness programmes
With commutes and family commitments, not everybody has the time to exercise outside of work. So why not add another benefit to your list and offer them during work hours? Lunchtime workplace wellness programmes are a fantastic way to boost engagement, but also increase productivity and reduce stress. You could start yoga classes, arrange lunchtime runs or even just a walk around your local park.
Other ideas include gym facilities or paid-for memberships, and healthy snacks in the office. Why not go even further and have a meditation room or a nap room built? We’re sure these will go down fantastically well.
Now more than ever, employers need to be focusing on how their employees feel when they’re at work and how they feel because of their work. As mental health is pushed into the spotlight, there will be even more pressure for businesses to take accountability and start making positive changes, so get ahead while you can. Companies who invest in mental wellbeing by breaking stigmas and bringing down barriers will benefit from creating a positive workplace, where people are happy to walk through the door in the morning. Everybody wins.