There are a reported 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing mental health issues every year and that number keeps on growing. It can take many forms, with the two most common being anxiety and depression. However, there are people out there who are either unaware of what they have or feel like they can’t tell anyone. The issues are magnified once a working environment comes into the mix.
A recent Mental Resilience Survey conducted by Westfield Health, revealed that over a third of UK employees find their working environment is impacting negatively on their mental health, while one in two feel that their workplace doesn’t handle the issue all that well.
This poses many problems for employers, with Executive Director of Westfield Health, Dave Capper, commenting: “The findings show that when it comes to managing mental health in the workplace, employers face a much bigger problem than first appears.
“Not only are workers reporting that their place of work is impacting negatively on their mental state of mind, but the majority are also calling for employers and employees to share responsibility and to do more to manage mental resilience and mindfulness in the workplace.”
The problem with mental health is the lack of visual evidence. The survey found that 40% of worker’s mental health issues came from a physical aliment, which in turn makes it harder to acknowledge the internal damage.
Mr Capper says that employers are facing a “mental health iceberg” as only a small selection of cases get recognised and managed, leaving a substantial amount hidden and never recognised.
He continues: “Although we’re seeing improvements in mental health provision in general, it seems workplaces are lagging behind, and this gap needs to be addressed.
“It is time for equal focus on managing mental health and physical health in the workplace.”
A study found that individuals suffering from mild to moderate mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression are twice as likely to be unemployed. This in turn has an estimated cost of £37 billion to the UK economy a year.
Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness explains more about the issues plaguing both employers and employees, saying: “On the one hand we have bosses who don’t feel equipped to support their staff properly, and on the other hand we have employees who don’t feel they can approach their managers.”
What’s the Solution?
Mr Dow has said that people need to feel like they can talk about mental health at work, whether it be a one-to-one asking how employees are feeling or helping managers see the tell-tale signs of any mental health conditions.
One of the biggest problems for businesses is not having enough financial stability to help support workers suffering from an illness. Sometimes their hands are tied and employees know this, so it unfortunately results in a fear to open up as it may affect their prospects going forward.
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