Even though society and the use of social media has opened the gates to mental health, there is still some stigma around these issues within the workplace. Government figures state that 1 in 6 people are experiencing a mental health illness in the workplace (14.7%). When considering how high this statistic is, it would be good practice to review whether you provide efficient mental health support to employees.
Why is Mental Health Training Important to businesses?
Overlooking mental health can have significant cost implications on your organization. According to the Mental Health Foundation:
- 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions
- 300,000 people lose their jobs each year because of mental health problems in the workplace.
It is clear that organisations need to be putting more time and effort in to creating support networks for their employees who are experiencing mental health difficulties.
So let’s talk about how HR professionals can implement support for those with mental health illnesses in addition to guidance and education for those who may not suffer.
Step 1: Provide the Necessary Training
In order to adopt a culture of support and guidance you must first implement the necessary training efforts for employees/managers to understand these issues to then be able to handle them appropriately.
Introducing a mental health training programme that provides training and knowledge for staff (especially senior executives) will ensure that managers are able to recognise specific signs early on; and address them appropriately. By making this a company-wide initiative you will provide knowledge and training to all, which will equip every employee with the ability to support their colleagues. Creating a support network that is open and transparent is essential. Initiatives such as these enable employees to ask for help if they need too; and ensuring constant communication is the key to this development in creating a continuous supporting culture.
Step 2: Create Well-being Champions
As well as providing this necessary training; it is good practice to enlist internal mental health champions who can help lead conversations concerning mental health with their coworkers’ wellbeing. This encourages more people to talk, which is important as many still feel there is stigma around mental health illnesses. These champions can educate others by dismissing common myths and making these topics normal to talk about.
A mental health illness can happen to anyone within the workplace; even to those you least expect. By encouraging people to talk about mental health within the workplace, stigma can be reduced. Mental health is already a lonely illness, so let’s not allow people to suffer in silence. Creating awareness and championing conversations can help more people than you think. HR can provide the vital training to implement this supportive culture; increasing wellbeing, productivity and business continuity.