Are your staff able to talk freely about mental health issues, or do they risk dismissal if they do?

Over the past year we’ve witnessed a growing momentum in the number of organisations recognising the importance of mental health in their workplaces. This was also evident in the ‘Mental Health at Work 2017’ research report that we helped to launch this week.

The research, commissioned by Business in the Community and supported by Mental Health at Work, shows a desire to change the way that we manage mental health within our workplaces, but progress in making changes is slow. It’s astounding that in 2017 employees are at risk of demotion, disciplinary action or even dismissal from disclosing mental ill health, yet the research reveals a staggering 15% face just this scenario. This is almost twice the number identified in similar research undertaken in 2016 and scaled up to the general working population, could mean as many as 1.2 million people are negatively affected.

More has to be done to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace, at a time when up to three in five of UK employees have experienced work-related mental health issues in the past year. Mental Health at Work believes that organisations should ensure common language and literacy levels around understanding mental health and provide line managers with the practical skills to manage it as an integral part of daily, working life. The research reveals that less than a quarter (24%) of managers have received any training in mental health.

Training is vital. When Mental Health at Work first engages with organisations, their challenge is often how to prioritise the necessary training; engaging both time pressed board members and senior leaders and the broader workplace to ensure a common understanding and culture around mental health. Bespoke programmes are created for each organisation, enabling flexible delivery in both content and duration to ensure relevant awareness and skills training that supports ongoing business demands and objectives.

In the past year, Mental Health at Work has trained 1,597 individuals in mental health awareness and skills, of whom over 700 were in line manager roles, across a range of industries. This represents a 300% increase from the previous six months.

The research shows that there is still a huge amount to be done. Organisations must consider flexible training approaches and raising literacy levels as part of a broad mental health strategy to empower employers and employees alike.

The full report and recommendations are available online and for further information on how your organisation can reduce the stigma of workplace mental health, get in touch here.

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