World Mental Health Day: Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority
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How can we put mental health and well-being at the top of every individual’s personal agenda?
World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10 October 2022, and this year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is how we can put mental health at the top of every individual’s personal agenda. How can we ensure that both social and work environments are conducive to looking after ourselves?
Whilst annual events such as this remind us to recognise the importance of doing everything possible to prevent mental ill-health and to revisit well-being strategies in the workplace, it’s vital that employers show serious commitment to positive employee mental health throughout the year. Media campaigns quickly move onto the next topic and it’s easy for other business priorities to take over, particularly in this post pandemic economic environment. We need to continue the conversation and keep the topic high on the business agenda.
The key message here is that experiences of mental health differ greatly from one person to the next. Any support provided by employers needs to be tailored to an individual’s own set of circumstances. This can only be achieved by talking openly and taking proactive steps to help people deal with their daily lives in a safe and healthy manner.
Why is open communication so important in the workplace?
The stigma that surrounds mental health continues to stop employees who are at their most vulnerable from asking for and accepting help. To break that stigma, it’s vital for businesses not to offer support as an ‘employee benefit’, but as a business priority that makes it clear that asking for support should be standard practice.
Mental health continues to be treated very differently from physical health. While people might be more inclined to talk about physical ailments, recent research suggests that 58% of employees do not feel comfortable opening up about anxiety, depression or other related concerns. A workplace environment where employees feel that they are able to talk openly about mental health can help to ensure that staff feel supported.
The Covid-19 pandemic not only increased the severity of existing mental health challenges, it has for many people created new ones. Depression and anxiety, loneliness and burnout are among the most common issues to have skyrocketed. In addition, Rethink Mental Illness, have recently suggested that ‘rising energy prices could fuel the mental health emergency’ as ‘mental health and money worries are intrinsically linked’. A significant percentage of younger employees are likely to be disproportionately affected by this added financial pressure.
It is recognised that these challenges should be treated on par with physical illness. An area close to me personally is to remember that someone who may be struggling with a long-term physical illness is often likely to be experiencing severe mental health challenges as well. Both the physical and the mental health difficulties will go hand in hand.
Accepting and coming to terms with a long-term illness diagnosis is likely to place insurmountable anxiety on someone and this anxiety could affect their levels of concentration and focus at work. In many cases, the individual concerned may feel fearful or worried about needing time off work or adjustments by the employer to their daily work tasks to deal with the mental health pressures. This is in addition to the support they may need for psychological therapy and hospital appointments and related treatment.
The key point here is that poor mental well-being can derive from so many different areas in an individual’s life. and employers are encouraged to take practical steps to ensure that their employees know what support is available to them to help this topic remain a top priority.
We are here to help
Rix & Kay’s dedicated Employment team provide expert guidance for businesses on all areas of employment law including mental health and well-being training, programmes for managers and wider strategic planning. The firm also provides a fixed cost employment law and HR retainer services for businesses called GatekeeperHR.
GatekeeperHR is a fixed cost, employment law and HR retainer service which provides businesses with access to a dedicated team of experienced lawyers and HR professionals who you can speak to, or meet face-to-face, at any time. The service includes a full HR compliance audit, access to an online portal full of valuable employment law and HR resources and an annual training session on topics of your choosing. To find out more about GatekeeperHR, please contact us.
Alternatively, you can browse the GatekeeperHR website, sign up for a free trial or download our brochure by visiting www.gatekeeperhr.co.uk.
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