Mental Health should be Treated the same as Physical Conditions in the Workplace

The Government’s Department of Health advises that one in four people will experience mental ill health at some point in their lifetime. While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term and are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.

Mental health concerns how we think, feel and behave. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and are sometimes a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement or financial worries, but can also be caused by work-related issues.

The severity of mental ill health ranges feeling ‘a bit down’ to more common disorders such as anxiety and depression to increasingly more severe and much less common conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

On the whole a person’s mental health is not simply continuously good. It can rise and fall depending on pressures and/or experiences in their life. An individual may feel in good mental health overall but also experience bouts of stress or anxiety from time to time.

Your mental health is relevant to your work

If you feel good about yourself it boosts work productively, colleagure interaction and enables you to make a valuable contribution to the workplace.

Recentlu the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development researched the impact that mental ill health can have on employees.

The study discovered that:

  • 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 62% take longer to do tasks
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients.

It also uncovered for the first time that stress is the major cause of long-term absence in workers both manual and non manual.

Supporting mental health at work

There are many benefits for promoting positive mental health in the workplace. Staff with good mental health will more often perform well, have good attendance levels and engage positively in their work.

Mental ill health can often be an invisible condition

Employers need to train managers to support staff experiencing mental ill health. It is important that your boss can spot the signs of mental ill health, know how to empathetically approach conversations and have systems in place to support staff experiencing mental ill health.

Dealing with stress in the workplace

Reducing work-related stress can be hugely beneficial to an employer – reducing absence levels and improving overall performance. Employers also have a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees.

Your employer should be considering what causes workplace stress, how to reduce it in their workplace and how to support staff if and when they do experience stress.

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Acas research demonstrates that 60% of employees suffered stress and/or anxiety in the past year.

Workplace Anxiety & Work Related Anxiety

Anxiety causes feelings of worry, fear, nervousness or unease about something. Employers and managers need to understand what can cause anxiety and key indicators if a team member is experiencing anxiety.

Low awareness given to employees with mental conditions have left many employees calling for a reform. This reform could mean that under health and safety law, employers are expected to provide the necessary training to equip and help employees deal with mental ill-health. The same importance that is given to physical first aid health is what will be given to mental ill-health. This movement is hoping to extend to the Equality Act which will recognize “episodic and fluctuating” mental health conditions.

The ‘mental health should be treated the same as physical conditions in the workplace’ push has not only shown the concern and care employers have for their employees, it has also strengthened and lifted the spirits of many employees who have mental issues. What many seem to forget is that mental ill-health is just as important as physical health and as such, negligence to the needs of employees affects not only the morals of staff but the general economy.

Money can be saved in making mental health treatment and awareness a priority in the workplace mandatory. A study carried out by World Health Organisation revealed that depression and anxiety disorders costs the global economy 1 trillion USD each year in lost productivity. Expenditure into providing a safe environment is not the only expected responsibility of any workplace.

When the workplace take mental health issues with the same seriousness that they address and handle physical health issues, the benefits that will erupt from this decision will far outweigh any possible cons or disadvantages. Benefits include;

  • Improving the general health of the public.
  • Increase in workforce.
  • Increase in productivity output.
  • Increase in Economic growth.

Mental health needs to be treated in the same way physical health is treated in the workplace. There should not be any disparity between the two.

If you are experiencing mental health related issues and you are not receiving the support our no win no fee Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we offer employment law advice on all problems. Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777.