Creating a culture of acceptance around mental health at work
According to the Thriving at Work report, an independent review commissioned by the government last year into how employers can support the mental health of their employees, the annual cost of poor mental health to employers is estimated at between £33 billion and £44 billion. Yet despite these huge costs, there continues to be a negative stigma attached to mental health within our society and in our workplaces.
A recent article in The Metro reports on the experiences of five people who told their employer about their mental illness. The good news is that some of these people had really positive experiences with their line managers working with them to address and manage their illness so they could thrive at work. For others, their experience highlights how poorly mental health continues to be managed in the workplace.
“One of the biggest barriers to improving the culture of acceptance around mental ill health is that line managers lack the training, skills and confidence to have the right conversations and effectively support others. As a society we need to work harder to remove this negative stigma and in the workplace, employers can help by ensuring that line managers are properly trained and better equipped to deal with difficult and challenging situations. Over the last 12-18 months, we’ve seen an increase in the number of trained mental first aiders and mental health champions in the workplace as employers recognise the need for action. While this is a welcome step forward, part of the issue is that simply investing in this type of training is not enough. Developing mental first aid skills is a process that needs to evolve over time and employers need to make sure their line managers have the right post training support and guidance in place to ensure they get it right. This is an area that EAPs have particular expertise in and we urge employers to talk to their EAP provider about how they can work together to provide ongoing coaching for line managers around mental ill health ,” said Andrew Kinder, Executive Member of EAPA UK.