Mental health awareness week

12 May 2016

Mental ill-health in the workplace is costing UK employers £30 billion through lost production, recruitment and lost working days and is thought to be behind about half of all long term absences.

Mental health awareness week runs from 16 to 22 May 2016 and many organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, work to raise awareness both personally and professionally.

According to research by Acas mental health issues are thought to be responsible for 91 million lost working days each year, more than for any other illness and yet it still remains a taboo area for discussion with many people. Tackling these issues is vital in improving working lives for employees and a major factor in addressing productivity and business outcomes.

Not listening could prove very costly - to the individual and to your business. The Centre for Mental Health charity estimate that employers should be able to cut the cost of mental health - in lost production and replacing staff - by about a third by improving their management of mental health at work.

Acas has an advisory booklet Promoting positive mental health at work which is designed to help employers to:

  • Tackle the stigma around mental health - Mental health rarely conforms to stereotypes. For example, you can be diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder, but have a very positive state of mental health.
  • Focus on the practical things you can do to help - Some of the factors that influence an individual's mental health, like childhood experiences or family relationships, are out of your control. But you can help by monitoring workloads, employee involvement, the physical environment and the nature of relationships at work.
  • Develop solutions by listening - Sometimes all you need to do is help employees to help themselves. An employee may already have coping strategies or medical advice that they can follow, but showing empathy always helps.

The Mental Health Foundation also has a variety of resources for employers.