What makes it so difficult to talk about our mental health at work? Are we worried we’re going to get fired? Lose respect? Not be trusted to do a good job or looked down upon? As an employer do we worry our staff will use it as an excuse for low productivity? It’s a complex topic and while we’re more comfortable talking about mental health in our personal lives, there is still plenty of stigma to be found at work.
Poor mental health no doubt has a severe impact on employees, but it also has huge repercussions for employers. These include increased sickness absence, burnout and exhaustion, high staff turnover, low motivation and engagement and a loss of productivity.
This is why this year’s World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October is themed around mental health in the workplace. Set by the World Federation for Mental Health they aim to encourage both employers and employees to start having conversations around emotional and mental health at work. To look at what support is in place, safeguard staff wellbeing, spot signs in potential sufferers before they become severe and to fight stigma.
Over 70 million work days are lost each year due to ill mental health, costing Britain £70-100bn annually and making it the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. The latest mental health foundation report found that less than 50% of employees surveyed said they wouldn’t feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress. 25% of people had even considered resigning due to stress.