When was the last time you had a conversation at work about mental health? If you’re following Craig Fearn, our Mental Wellbeing Mentor over on LinkedIn, the chances are that you’ve heard about mental wellbeing. And at this time of year he’s always ready to chat Time to Talk Day and why, quite simply, it’s good to talk. This is a campaign run by the charity ‘Time to Change’, a joint initiative from charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Time To Talk Day (3rd February 2022) was a day-long event that encouraged people to talk about their mental health. The idea being that you talk to the people around you – friends, family… or colleagues.
“On Time To Talk Day we want everyone to have a conversation about mental health – whether that’s texting a friend, chatting to a colleague or organising a stigma-busting event,” said a statement from the charity.
And given that many people spend a large portion of their days in a workplace setting, it’s fair to say that this year quite a few of those conversations should have happened at work. But, did they?
Talking openly about mental health – or what indeed optimum mental health is – is something that is slowly receiving better understanding. But while we may be finding our confidence to start these conversations in friendship or family groups, there is not as much open discussion in the workplace as I’d like to see.
The Mental Health Foundation estimated that better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. This is an inspiring figure, but what does this support look like?
I’d also like to consider who is supporting the – often poorly trained – Mental Health First Aiders who are often a cornerstone in a business wellbeing strategy. But that is a post for another day…
So, mental health support could be intervention or care management for someone who is at risk of depression, or living with it. Personalised information and advice that is accessible at the workplace, together with support and treatment for those staff who need, it also works effectively. But, much the same as we need to have more open conversations about mental wellbeing in the workplace to encourage more dialogue about this, more employers need to make the investment in staff wellbeing to prevent a problem, not react to it.
But is the cost too prohibitive? Does it cost a lot for businesses to provide these services. I think not, especially when the outcome is a team or organisation who are supported and working in a place where they know their wellbeing is a key concern for the business. Happy workforces can be nothing but an asset to a business.
And the research from the Mental Health Foundation found that “for a company with 500 employees, where all employees undergo the intervention, it is estimated that an initial investment of £40,000 will result in a net return of £347,722 in savings”. So there really is a competitive advantage to investing in a business in this way.
Having support in place for those who are currently struggling with their mental health is key. Employers might offer counseling, or access to a helpline for use as and when it is needed. And some adjustment to working hours may be needed..
Clear policies around taking time off for illness, including mental ill health, as reassure employees that their employer will listen and will help them. And if these policies are in place, it makes it far easier to have these conversations in the first place.
If you want to start these conversations in your workplace or if you’re exploring a wellbeing strategy and need support or mentoring – contact Craig.