Mental health has always been a taboo subject in the workplace. However this is to the detriment of both the employer and employee. With stress and mental health causes the lead reason for absence in the UK, it is important that employer begin to give it greater consideration; our corporate mental health services can help.
Poor mental health cost businesses in the UK 15.4 million workdays in 2017/18; 57% of absences are due to stress, anxiety or depression. So it is without doubt something employers should pay attention to.
Purely from a financial standpoint the cost of taking steps to look after the mental health of employees versus the cost of having employees on the sick and potentially having to recruit should they not be able to return to work makes sense.
Ultimately, if an employer wants to get the best out of their employees, their mental wellbeing is always of concern. Nurturing a work environment that is supportive with an ethos of openness and understanding is the ideal. But if an employee does experience problems, an employer has a duty of care as to protect the health, safety and welfare of all your employees – which includes their mental health and wellbeing. Aside from this, it is in the employer’s interest to help them however they can so the can remain at work and productive in their role.
Many people don’t go off sick when they are struggling with their mental health. Presenteeism is a big problem in the workplace. This is when employees are turning up for work even though they are not well enough to be there. There are usually telltale signs for presenteeism; these include an employee …
If you notice this in an employer, it might be worth having a conversation with them.
Clear policies and training about mental health at work is a good place to start. An open-door policy, for example, may encourage employees to come forward if they are having problems.
If you suspect an employee’s wellbeing is being compromised, you may wish to talk about it with the employee. This should be confidential and at a time and place in which they would feel comfortable having the discussion. This could just be a general ‘How are you doing? I’ve noticed XYZ, is everything alright?’
To what extent they are prepared to talk and/or ask for help is very much up to the employee. If they know they will be supported they are more likely to open up however the employee may not want to talk to or involve their employer in their care.
An employer can support an employee by making adaptations that allow them the time and space to get themselves ‘back on track’. This may be adjustments like changes to working hours, a little extra time on tasks or lightening their workload to take some of the pressure off them.
If an employee needs further support with their mental health and does not have private medical insurance they will likely turn to the NHS. There are typically long waiting lists of up to 16 weeks for talking therapy services on the NHS. During this waiting period they may not feel able to be at or return to work and they may continue to deteriorate.
Access to our private services is usually within 1 week. We can offer assessments and courses of therapy that can be paid for by the individual, by an insurer (if they have cover) or by their employer. With the employee’s consent we can also provide reports to the employer on progress as well as recommendations for how the employer can help them in their role.
An employee does not need to have gone on the sick to receive help with their mental health. In fact it is far better that it does not reach that stage; once someone reaches crisis point it is a longer and harder road to recovery as opposed to simply seeking help when problems begin to occur. A proactive approach to mental wellbeing is always best.
If you’re an employer and would like to discuss how we can help your business call us on 0191 2580008.