Why wellbeing in the workplace is a key topic this World Mental Health Day

Published: Tuesday 10th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Today is World Mental Health Day. We spoke with David Smith, CEO of HEY Mind, to find out more about the day.

This year’s theme is mental health in the workplace, so why does mental health play an integral part in our working lives?

Hi, David. Can you tell us a bit more about what this event means?

It’s a real joy to see that World Mental Health Day focuses on the workplace this year. Our work, our employment and our vocation play such an important part in our wider mental health.

Quite often, when we talk about mental health, we immediately think about the far end of the spectrum, about conditions of bipolar, depression, schizophrenia and psychosis – we forget that mental health has a very wide spectrum.

For many, being able to have and maintain a job plays a tremendous role in their ability to manage their own mental health and feel productive. It allows them to be part of society.

There are two aspects to this World Mental Health Day. One is how we make sure that people with mental health problems have the opportunity to go to work and enjoy going to work. And then, once they are in work, they receive all of the support and help that they need.

It’s also important from an employer’s perspective. 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue every year. That’s a huge number of people in the workforce who will struggle with their mental health to some degree. It can be quite worrying for employers about how best to engage with employees when they are experiencing these issues – many shy away from saying anything or doing anything because they are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

World Mental Health Day gives us an opportunity to talk to employers about mental health and to hear from them about where they might need a bit of support or guidance.

We know that mental health and absence from work as a result of mental health problems has a huge financial cost for businesses and organisations. So there’s a real incentive for these employers to get this right.

What would your top three tips for employers be regarding mental health in the workplace?

Firstly, you need to do something really visible to let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about mental health. With it being World Mental Health Day, get something up in your office, the staff room or the canteen and even the staff emails – just to show that, as an employer, you are behind these sorts of campaigns.

Secondly, ensure that your managers or HR team have appropriate training in dealing with these topics.

Thirdly, just talk about mental health generally and normalise the conversation. Don’t think that you have to wait for 10 October every year to discuss it.

Any advice to employees?

The worst thing that you can do is try to bottle it up and avoid talking about it. If you are in a workplace that doesn’t have a really obvious occupational health programme or HR team. Try to find a manager that you feel comfortable talking to. If you don’t feel able to talk to someone at work, do talk to someone else.

Mind has an information line that you can call wherever you are in the country. We can put you in touch with a local person who you can talk to and explore what you’re feeling, and guide you on the kind of support you should be getting at work.

If you would like to find out more, please visit the Hull and East Yorkshire Mind website.

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Published: Tuesday 10th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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