Mental health problems cover a wide range of issues – including stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse – that affect someone’s ability to get on with their daily life. Early intervention can help slow down or stop a mental health problem and lead to faster recovery. However most of us know little about mental health. We often don’t spot the signs that someone else – or ourselves – is struggling until very late.
• One in five employees report their job to be very or extremely stressful
• One in six employees are likely to experience problems with stress, anxiety or depression at any one time
• Stress, anxiety and depression are responsible for 70 million days sick leave every year (Centre for Mental Health)
• Sickness absence due to mental health problems is estimated to cost UK businesses £30.3bn, equivalent to £1,206 per employee per year (Centre for Mental Health)
• ‘Presenteeism’ (when an employee comes to work, but due to ill-health their productivity is severely reduced) is estimated to cost at least as much and impacts on performance, efficiency, staff relations and client contact
These costs may be higher if you assume that fear of discrimination or even dismissal may lead many employees to disguise mental health problems and to blame absence or under-performance on ill-defined physical symptoms.
Employers have a duty of care to all staff, as well as health and safety duties, and positive action on workplace well-being can assist with meeting these responsibilities to the benefit of both staff and the organisation.
There are many things that could be done to promote a more mentally healthy workplace, with the added benefit of reducing absenteeism and saving money. One of the most important is creating an environment of openness and understanding. Awareness training for line managers is vital in increasing their knowledge and understanding of mental health issues and allowing them to be able to respond confidently and in a timely fashion to employees in distress.
You might think that physical first aid is valuable, and rightly so. However, you are far more likely to meet someone who is having thoughts of suicide than to come across someone having a heart attack. By learning to recognise the signs that someone may be unwell, you may be able to provide initial help, to guide a person towards appropriate professional help, and in its most powerful form, save a life by learning basic suicide intervention skills.
Would you know how to help an employee or colleague who may be developing a mental health problem?
Live Well Training is an approved provider of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses. These courses are designed to teach anyone (regardless of experience) how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health problem. To date, these courses have been delivered to over 75,000 people across the country. They are also internationally recognised in 21 countries and OCN accredited. Delegates come from various backgrounds and roles, from employment advisors, business managers, and HR managers to ambulance staff, teachers and nurses.