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Mental Health in the Workplace

With World Mental Health Day just around the corner (10th October), there is a lot of talk about mental health and particularly about mental health in the workplace.

According to the Mental Health Organisation, poor mental health is one of the biggest issues in the workplace today. A mental health condition can have a huge impact on the employee but it also has a big impact on the employer.  Poor mental health causes over 70 million working days to be lost each year, costing Britain around £70-£100 billion. The most commonly experienced conditions in the workplace are stress and anxiety through to some more complex mental health conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.

A study carried out by the Mental Health Organisation concluded that less than half of employees felt they were able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress and a quarter of people had considered resigning over stress.

There is clearly still a long way to go however employers are starting to acknowledge the importance of their employees’ wellbeing and are starting to look into encouraging good mental health in the workplace, addressing any problems early and supporting staff when issues arise.

Community Links as a mental health organisation, places the highest importance on the wellbeing of its employees. Workloads are reviewed regularly through supervision and communication channels are always open for people to voice any concerns  Employees can also access the Employee Assistance Programme. The programme provides practical information, resources and counselling to help employees balance their work, family and personal lives. In addition, each employee is entitled to a welfare budget of £75. The welfare budget is a support mechanism designed to help employees manage their health and wellbeing and can be used at times when an employee may need support to build their resilience. The welfare budget can be used for counselling, meditation,massages, yoga, hypnotherapy, Pilates and many more other treatments that promote wellbeing. For example, in my team, massages and yoga are particularly popular choices!

We have also introduced the ‘Walk and Talk’ meeting model to our daily routine. This is where staff are encouraged to go out for a walk with colleagues and have some fresh air and a chat about work on the go. As you can imagine this is particularly popular in the summer months, although even in bad weather nothing deters our Chief Exec Ruth Kettle!

Our organisation recognises and supports various mental health events such as Time to Talk where staff were invited for tea and cakes and to have a chat about their own mental health. The event was such a success that we could have easily gone on into the afternoon.

We also celebrated Mental Health Awareness week by having a Wellbeing workshop run by our very own trainer Rich Bell, where we got employees to talk about their ways of dealing with stress in small groups. This was then followed by a Mindfulness session.

Mindfulness is encouraged within our organisation and this is a favourite with our Chief Exec Ruth. We have just developed a new Mindfulness course for beginners which we are encouraging employees to attend. Our first session is being delivered this month and spaces booked up so quickly that we will need to schedule another session in the very near future!

Community Links creates awareness of mental health conditions and works to reduce stigma through mental health training to both employees and external clients.

As the Training Business Manager, I have seen a greater interest recently for courses on mental health awareness in the workplace. Our standard Mental Health Awareness course touches on the subject but we felt that we needed a more detailed course looking at the subject from an employee and employer’s perspective. We then developed a bespoke course for West Yorkshire Police and Leeds University.

Other courses that I feel would help employers and employees to have a safer workplace environment are Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention courses such as safeTALK, ASIST and Suicide to Hope.

For further information on our courses please visit: https://www.commlinks.co.uk/training/courses/

Andrea Denison
Training Business Manager