WEDNESDAY 26 APR 2017 12:01 PM


As mental health and wellbeing have become a challenge in the workplace, there has been a push for employers to prioritise mental health issues in their practices. London-based mental health charity, Mind, campaigns to raise awareness and understanding of mental health struggles, and has released its research of its effect in the workplace. With 15,000 participants across 30 organisations, including Deloitte, HMRC and PepsiCo, the study coincides with the launch of its Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards, a benchmark of best policy and practice in cultivating good staff wellbeing.

Of the 2,000 employees who disclosed poor mental health in the workplace, 53% reported that they felt supported and 72% said they were aware of support tools including Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), counseling and both formal and informal employee support networks. Additionally, 56% said they were provided with reasonable adjustments or support measures, such as a change in work hours or responsibilities. Mind says that the first step in tackling the cause of stress in staff is fostering an open culture in which employees feel comfortable discussing wellbeing without fear of discrimination.

Mind’s first Workplace Wellbeing Index Awards held on March 28, 2017, celebrated employers who make mental health issues an organisational priority. The awards recognised forward-thinking employers who are taking necessary measures to promote the wellbeing of their staff, particularly those struggling with mental health, says Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind. “In the last few years, we’ve seen employers make great strides when it comes to tackling stress and supporting the mental wellbeing of their staff, including those with a diagnosed mental health problem,” Mamo continues. “Our research shows that mental health problems are very common among employees who work for organisations of various sizes and sectors.”

The study also highlights a discrepancy between how well managers feel they support staff against how well supported employees feel. Only 54% of respondents felt that their line manager supports their mental health, however 73% of senior managers reported that they would be confident in supporting an employee diagnosed with a mental health issue. This taps into a larger issue of employees feeling unable to talk openly about their mental health, as only 26% of participants said they would be likely to seek support from a manager if they were experiencing issues with mental health.

“I know first-hand how difficult it can be talking to your employers about your mental health,” says Mind ambassador and TV presenter, Anna Williamson. “For many years, I’ve battled severe anxiety and panic attacks, culminating in me having a breakdown while working on a children’s television programme early on in my career. Fortunately, my employers were great, I was signed off work for a bit, and given lots of support from colleagues while I was off and when I returned. I only wish I’d opened up sooner before things got so bad, but it really depends on the culture of the workplace.”


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