Mental health in the workplace- let’s work on it

February 5th 2015 / Anna Hunter

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Only 7% of employers have discussed mental health with their staff- it’s high time to up the numbers

With 1 in 4 of us affected by mental health problems each year, it seems shocking that a recent survey of 1150 UK employees and 586 senior decision makers by the Institute of Directors and YouGov revealed that three quarters of businesses don’t have a mental health policy in place, and just 1 in 14 bosses have discussed mental health with employees. On national Time To Talk day, the IoD have joined forces with mental health charity Mind to raise awareness of the lingering taboos surrounding mental health and encourage businesses to open channels of communication around issues of mental wellbeing, training management staff and making provisions to support employees across all sectors.

Tonight hundreds of business leaders will meet at the IoD HQ to discuss the survey’s findings and how companies can address mental health concerns and adapt workplaces to better assist staff. The silver lining is that most businesses (82%) see the value in implementing mental health support schemes, with 68% agreeing that it’s the company’s responsibility to foster and promote emotional wellbeing. What’s good for workers is, unsurprisingly, good for business too, given that 32% of employees report that stress and anxiety make it difficult to carry out tasks, while 93% of bosses state that personal worries and stress adversely affect staff performance.

Spearheading change is Simon Walker, Director General of the IoD:

“There may come a time when people are as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about the going to the dentist, but we’re not there yet”

“Huge progress has been made, but society still has a long way to go in increasing awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Businesses have an enormous role to play in creating an environment where such issues can be discussed openly, effectively and safely”

“After all, we spend a huge amount of lives at work and among colleagues, so we have to take steps to ensure that the work environment, particularly in smaller businesses, is one where mental health issues are well understood.”

Whether in the workplace or not, national Time to Talk day aims to dissolve the tension and often associated with discussions about mental health. To take part, commit to having a five minute chat this evening with a friend, partner, family member or colleague on the subject of mental wellbeing. If you’ve had one already, bring it up again. Send a text, leave a message or join the conversation online by following the hashtag #TimeToTalk. The important thing is not to let a whopping one in four of us suffer in silence.

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