By Eric King And Charlotte Webster-
British companies are being told to be conscious of the mental well being of its workforce as a campaign to promote mental health day kicks off today. The Mental Health Foundation found that the average person in Britain says “I’m fine” at least 14 times a day, but any business or family can suddenly find a staff member or family member who is struggling.
Mental health experts say almost 1 in 3 people will be struck by mental health problems whilst in employment, making it the single largest cause of disability in the UK. The economic and social cost of mental health problems in the UK amounts to more than £100 billion every year. Mental health is believed to be the number one cause of sickness absence, with around 70 million work days lost. Excess work load, bullying, and relationship problems with work colleagues can contribute to mental health issues in the work place.
A most overlooked side effect of stress induced mental health in the workplace is when affected employees act out their stress to their children, who may themselves be suffering from their own level of mental health problems. The overall effects can be devastating.
More importantly, no statistic can ever begin to capture the devastating and isolating impact on those people affected by mental health issues, and on their families and friends.
Rt Hon Greg Clark of the Department Of Business and Industry strategy is leading the call for awareness of mental health by revealing that his own department runs mental health and well being events and is growing a pool of Mental Health First Aiders, developing a culture where people can speak openly about their mental health problems.
”As the World Health Organization says, ‘there is no health without mental health’, it is just as fundamental to our well being as any physical illness”, Clarke said.
‘We are working hand-in-hand with business, inventors and innovators to address these challenges and opportunities facing our economy and society. As part of the government’s biggest increase in R&D spending, we announced last month 8 new Mental Health Networks to bring together researchers from health to the humanities, to work collaboratively with charities and people who have experience of mental health issues’, he said.
”Together, they will pool their knowledge to help improve mental health outcomes. The networks will further our understanding of the causes, development and treatments of a wide range of mental health issues, and support our ambition to make Britain the best place in the world to develop treatments to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives, giving us all more opportunities to fulfill our ambitions in life.
The good mental health of employees is not only socially responsible, but make business sense too.By tackling mental health stigma and helping people understand that mental health belongs to everybody, employers will see productivity, staff retention and sickness rates improve – it is an issue that businesses can’t afford to ignore.”
Employers will be expected to do all they can to support employees who may be suffering from mental health by offering professional help and guidance. The duty must be on employers to identify symptoms of mental health in their employees which can be observed by observing the tell signs of the condition. Depression, stress, conflicts in personal relationships are all factors that could call for help of affected employees, but the employees will be expected to respond to any professional advice given.
Suffering from mental health does not prevent affected individuals from taking positive steps to address their condition, though employers nay have the task of first identifying the existence of mental health in their employee even where the employee may not have identified it themselves.