Much can be done to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace by identifying the signs and traits, and employing strategies to support employees positively. Sensible adjustments at work that facilitate good attendance and performance are key.
The term mental health covers experiences which might not qualify for a formal diagnosis whereas mental illness describes specific diagnosed conditions. One in four people experience issues each year and it affects people differently so the subject needs serious attention as the stigma surrounding it means discussion is often avoided.
One’s mental health is not fixed but moves across the mental health continuum which demonstrates how our mental health is fluid and changes over time. Employees with a diagnosed condition can sustain good mental health with support and appropriate interventions e.g. medication or therapies. Employees may have poor mental health even when no condition has been diagnosed.
In the workplace communication is essential so that the impact at work can be monitored and problems avoided. A National Health Service Employment Retention Specialist can be assigned to employees to champion them in the workplace and act as a communication bridge between employee and employer. Occupational Health providers and the Support Partnership Helpline www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/about-us/contact-us offer support. Mental Health First Aiders are emerging in the workforce and can step in quickly.
Achieving good mental health in the workplace is an important part of the employer’s duty to employees. It is essential to grasp the nettle and take the sting out of it.