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Mental Health at Work

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In COPES’s Safety Management monthly newsletter, they raise the issue of Mental Health at Work.

Mental Health has made the headlines a lot in recent weeks. An independent review commissioned by Teresa May revealed that poor mental health could be costing the UK economy up to £99bn per year. Another study suggested that only 21% of workers would feel able to discuss issues or concerns about mental health with colleagues, whereas double this amount would be able to discuss a physical health problem.

What is Mental Health?

How we feel, act, think, cope with stress and how we make decisions is affected by our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Mental health varies from individual to individual and can range from feeling down to anxiety, depression or even bipolar disorders. An individuals mental health symptoms may increase or fall depending upon the events or activities experienced in their life or they could be in generally good mental health but experience periods of stress and anxiety from time to time.

Why Should Employers Address Mental Health?

Employees generally tend to be able to interact with their colleagues, be more proactive and efficient in their work and will avoid getting into conflict with others. Recent studies have shown that employees with poor mental health tend to be more likely to get into conflict with colleagues, struggle with workloads, become less patient (which can come across as rude to customers) and even be unable to complete tasks due to difficulties they are experiencing in concentrating and making decisions. All of these outcomes result in time, money and resources be used to rectify the situation.

What Should You do as an Employer?

Promote and improve mental health in the workplace – gather information from your absence records, exit interviews and performance data and review the outcome. Involve your staff as they will be able to identify areas that you could improve or offer assistance with.

Train Managers to help them spot the signs and step into help the employee and offer support at an earlier stage. If you can, offer an Employee Assistance Programme or a counselling service or encourage employees to come and speak to someone in confidence to see what support could be offered to assist them.  Support employees at an early stage to help avoid long term sickness absence, help improve performance and engagement with staff so that they feel that they can open up to their manager without fear of being penalised for doing so.

Visit http://www.jwcope.co.uk/ for more information.