Mental health is just as important as physical health.
A recent report found that 73 million working days are lost each year due to stress, depression and other mental health conditions but many employers still not take mental health as seriously as physical health. Today on the Blue Glove Jobs, we are looking at why it’s so important for employers to prioritise mental health. We’ll also take a look at how to approach the subject with staff.
Mental health is important.
We’ve all had to send a member of staff home because they’ve been unwell. We’ve all answered telephone calls of ‘I’m sorry I won’t be in today, I’m really not feeling well’. We’re sympathetic, because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been physically unwell at some point in our lives. But not all of us have experienced poor mental health. Mental health is still a bit of a taboo topic. While more and more people are beginning to open up about their struggles, it’s still a topic that some try to brush under the carpet. If a member of your staff called up in the morning and said: ‘sorry, I don’t think I’ll make it in today, I’m not in a good space mentally’ – what would you say?
It’s important for employers to prioritise mental health.
People with mental health problems often don’t open up about their problems for fear of being shunned. Many will force their way into work despite not feeling mentally well. If you’re a manager you must make the effort to prioritise emotional health, as much as you do physical health. If you don’t prioritise mental health, you could end up with staff on long-term sick leave, or staff who quit.
Spotting the signs of poor mental health in the workplace.
Mental health problems manifest differently in different people. Some of the signs to look out for may be:
- changes in usual behaviour and mood or how they interact with colleagues
- changes in the standard of their work or focus on tasks
- appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
- changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking and drinking (this one can be hard to monitor)
- increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late to work.
How to approach the subject with your staff.
Not all your staff will struggle with their mental health, but it’s important to reassure them that they can approach you if they’re struggling. Approaching the subject can be tricky, but more often than not, your employees will be grateful that you are concerned about their well-being. The ‘I’ll let them come to me about their problems’ approach won’t always work. Many people who struggle mentally, do not want to open up about their problems and will often hide it away. Make a point of asking your staff how they are doing during development meetings or one-to-ones. Or, if you notice any of the symptoms above, have a chat with them alone, and check how they are doing. It could be nothing, but it might be something, and we’re certain that they’ll be grateful for your help.