Does your employer care about your mental health?
Or do you feel that they care more about business results than the mental health of the people they manage?
I saw a blog post where a woman sent an email to her boss to say she needed to take a mental health sick day and got a really cold response. You can read about it here
What do you think your boss would say if you sent an email saying you were having a mental health sick day? Would they respond kindly or would they respond asking for an update on your work! In many cases bosses lack empathy towards employees. Whilst employees feel they give a lot to their employer.
Is mental health in your workplace taken as seriously as physical health?
Physical health is easier to see isn’t it. You know the sort of thing, leg in cast, swollen eye, streaming cold or sporting injury. Or even an operation where you are actually in hospital and completely unable to work . The boss can see that you are no good to them for a while.
Most people have sympathy towards physical illness don’t they? ‘Awwww, that looks sore’ or ‘you poor thing, hope you are feeling better soon’.
But is there the same level of sympathy towards mental health, or is there still a bit of a stigma?
7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis and 4-10% of people in England experiencing depression in their lifetime.
Is there still a mental health stigma?
Why is there any stigma or lack of support for mental health issues in the workplace?
Luckily, high profile people like Price Harry are really helping matters by talking about it.
He has openly said how the death of his mother, Princess Diana affected his mental health and wellbeing.
You might not think there is a stigma if you are in a workplace that is supportive of mental health issues like Laing O’Rourke. But there clearly is a huge problem.
49% of people saying they would be unlikely to tell their boss about problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Only 35% said they’d be happy to tell colleagues.
People leave companies because of bad bosses….
Some workplaces are almost archaic in their support of mental health issues. Managers that are so wrapped up in their own careers and living and breathing ‘work’ that they forget the people that work for them are PEOPLE.
It makes a real difference when your manager bothers to get to know you as a person. Asks after your family, makes you feel like a human.
And when you have a mental health issue and you manager is supportive, wow! That can really make or break your happiness at work. Maybe they support you by making changes to your hours, or your workload or support appointments for you to get professional help.
Or maybe they simply respect that not every day you are able to put in your most amazing performance or effort. It doesn’t make you a less committed or able employee.
Businesses that are obsessed with number of hours worked are missing a critical understanding of productivity.
Many european countries are understanding that people are often more productive when they are rested, happy and supported.
It’s time for employers to wake up and smell the bachs remedy
It is so shortsighted for employers not to consider the mental health of it’s employees as part of its strategy and company ethos.
In business speak, the costs of not doing so are massive. Anxiety and depression are estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
Things that don’t help mental health at work are:
- Unsupportive company ethos
- Systems and processes that cause stress
- Regular overworking
- Lack of ‘Wellbeing at work’ initiatives
- Lack of support from managers and HR
- Lack of appropriate training
- Unrealistic targets and timescales
- Lack of clear direction/strategy
- Lack of recognition
Some companies are wellbeing aware
Luckily 500 smart companies have signed up for the Time to Change Pledge to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination across England.
In a really great guide from Mentalhealth.org.uk they explain that good mental health practices have to start with managers. They advise looking out for these things in employees:
- Sensitive to criticism
- Loss of confidence or humour
- Making more mistakes
- Lack of concentration
- Not taking breaks
- Becoming introverted or extroverted
- Displaying stress
- Looking tired
- Lack of motivation
Prevention will pay dividends
There is much that can be done at prevention level which starts with having an open approach to mental health.
Talking about it in the company and being supportive of people working their contracted hours and not regularly expecting more. Have realistic job descriptions and treat people like people.
Of course people want to do a good job and be successful, it’s good for self-esteem and motivation. No one turns up at work every day wanting to do a bad job. But they also want lives and energy to enjoy themselves!
Some companies recognised the benefits of having a workforce who nurture their mental health a while ago. Some of the best are mentioned here
If you know a company that’s good at caring about their employees’ mental health, please give them a shout out in the comments of this blog. They deserve it 🙂
There is a very simple sum too which sums up why employers should care about mental health.
Happy staff = staff that want to make customers happy = happy customers = happy business.
A quick word for the self employed
As you are your own boss, you are responsible for your own mental health.
Self employed people can be so enthusiastic about their businesses that they let their self-care slip. Don’t let this be you!
If you are in business you will know that you need to play both the short game and the long game and this applies to your physical and mental health too.
Schedule days off and holidays. Make sure your customers and clients know your working hours so your ‘free time’ does not become ‘work time’.
So many people leave corporate life to enjoy the benefits of being self employed and actually ending working harder and longer. Nothing wrong with passion for your business, but if you burn out you won’t be able to do very much at all.
You have personal responsilbity for your own mental health too
Of course, work is not the only cause of mental health issues. Problems can arise after a life changing event, illness or for no reason at all.
There is much you can do to take care of your own wellbeing and keep mental health issues at bay. Then you can enjoy your work and the rest of your life to the best of your ability.
Prevention is better than cure
I’ve seen enough ‘frazzled’ clients to understand that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to mental health.