Mental Health in the Workplace Roundup
Just a few links to things that relate to why workplaces should care, and what they should do about mental health issues:
The Business Community Should Care About Child Abuse Too
What if I told you, that all those businesses that are struggling to find good workers in the current labor market, or who are losing workdays due to various mental or physical health issues, should be thinking about long term solutions to the problem?
What if I also told you that many of these issues, a shortage of people with the skills necessary to do the job, and mental health struggles, could be directly tied in many cases to childhood trauma?
Would it not make sense to look into ways to prevent childhood trauma?
The post includes some information from Prevent Child Abuse America about how businesses can do just that.
Ending the Mental Health Stigma
Bernard has much to say, but I think this little subheading tells us why this is important to the bottom line:
Every dollar invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety – the two most common mental health disorders – can generate a return of $4 in terms of improved wellbeing and increased ability to work. But the most important step toward improving mental health will be to make access to care routine and unremarkable.
Let’s be honest. Until we can reach a point where someone you work with starts getting mental health treatment, and the common response is “oh OK, good”, there will be too many people not getting the help they need and hiding their struggles. This is the biggest barrier to having a truly supportive workplace. And, since we know having an employee get help and come back better than ever is a way better option than having turnover, this is where the business world needs to be heading. Full stop.
Also, from an article about a panel discussion at Davos that also included Prince William, comes this tidbit from HSBC:
HSBC bank boss John Flint, also on the panel, said that in the “notoriously competitive” banking industry mental health problems were common.
He said it was imperative that people at the top spoke about it to allow those lower down in the organisation to open up.
“We all sit on the spectrum [of mental health]. I know there’s a profound difference between when I’m feeling my best and when I’m not,” he added.
Mr Flint said the bank was training managers to spot signs of mental health problems so they could help staff deal with them.
He said it made business sense given the impact problems had on workers’ performance.
Not only is it an issue affecting your current employees though, how you handle mental health could also be affecting who applies to work for you in the first place. This little gem comes to us from a survey of law school graduates in the UK:
Only 40% of respondents said they would feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with their manager. More than 50% of respondents said they would rather cite physical ill health as a reason for absence from work. The survey also found that 84% of law students and graduates are more likely to apply to an employer who is open about their commitment to mental health.
They’re not in a place right now where they feel comfortable talking about mental health issues, but they want to be in one.
To support a colleague, listen & don’t judge
And this, finally, gets us to the crux of the stigma problem. How can I, as a colleague, do the right thing for my coworkers when they are dealing with a mental health issue?
If you have an employee or colleague with a mental health problem, please react like my second employer and not my first. Make sure to listen and try not to judge them if they open up about their mental health problems. If you’re an employer try and make it obvious that you are open about this topic, try incorporating it into your policies. Find organisations, such as Time to Change, who can help you with this.
If you’re a colleague, just be there for them if they want to talk or even if they don’t. If they take time off support them like you would support a colleague with a physical illness.
The bottom line is, mental health issues affect all of us in one way or another. There are too many people directly dealing with them for us to imagine we don’t know anybody who does. The statistics do not lie. You do know someone, and it’s likely to be someone you work with. Educate yourself, and your workplace, about the issue.