Health and safety regulations dictate that there are first aid boxes easily accessible within a workplace. However, there are no mental first aid boxes. There is a disparity between physical health and mental health. There are designated parking spaces for the disabled and societal empathy and sympathy, for physically challenged individuals or those with obvious physical injuries.
However, recently there has become graeter influence on creating awareness about the impact of mental health. Mental health illnesses are common but they are often less obvious than physical conditions. The dangers of mental health are just as important as any physical illness.
What is Mental illness?
Mental illness can simply be defined as a disorder that affects one’s mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of Mental illness include; Depression, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, dementia, addictive behavior and many more
Mental illness in the work environment
Sadly, there are numerous cases of disability discrimination in the workplace as many workers tend to lack empathy for colleagues suffering from mental illness. There is a glaring disparity between how workers with mental illness are treated when compared to physical illness. This lack of understanding by employers often becomes is a detrrent to raise concerns about an individual’s mental health. The fear of being discriminated based on disability has made many employees unwilling to get help.
What could be the cause?
Racial discrimination, Sexual discrimination, age discrimination, disability discrimination, gender discrimination, wrongful dismissal among many others are partly the reasons why the mental state of many employees degenerate to depression, anxiety and so on. There have been many unlawful acts that occur in the workplace in which many employees are subject to and as a result suffer from mental illness.
Luckily, employers charitable initiatives raising awareness of mental health in the workplace are opening channels for employees to come forward if they are suffering in the workplace. The challenge is that there is little support and the procedures in place are often not the same as they are for phyisical injury. A number of UK businesses have tendered their unreserved frustration in an open letter, calling on prime minister Theresa May to prioritize manifesto pledges to update legislation and act on mental health in the workplace.
This is definitely a push in the right direction, as it therefore means that under health and safety law, employers would have to provide appropriate training to help employees deal with mental health illnesses. Employers are fast becoming aware of the need to cater to and for their employees in the workplace.
Recognising the important role work has on mental health should encourage employers to view the mental health of their workforce as an asset. Working can provide a sense of identity, build self-esteem and provide an opportunity for healthy social interactions.
It’s vital that to protect employee value by addressing mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and for the workforce as a whole. A toxic work environment can be corrosive to an employees mental health.
Workplaces are most effective if they are placess where everyone can thrive. The role of employers, employees and businesses on some level is to create thriving communities. Good mental health at work and good management are symbiotic and there is supporting evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are in fact more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.
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Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.