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Although one in four of us will experience a work-related mental health issue in our life time, there is still a stigma associated with poor mental health.
Many people will dismiss conditions such as anxiety, depression or stress as mere excuses for poor work performance, but the reality is that these issues can be crippling to individual productivity and the standard of work could suffer as a result.
We find out how corporations can create a culture of acceptance regarding cases of poor mental health, and how this in turn will help employees to be more productive.
Although maintaining optimal mental health should be the primary focus of businesses that wish to have an empowered and productive workforce, the state of mental health among employees in the UK has deteriorated, according to a recent survey by People Management of HR professionals.
As it stands, the most common manifestations of ill mental health is stress reported in 88 percent of organisations, followed by depression (85 percent) and anxiety (83 percent).
Workforce Survey researchers found that there were a total of 440,000 cases of work-related stress, anxiety or depression between 2014 and 2015, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers.
Their latest estimates show that stress accounted for 35 percent of all work related ill health cases, and 43 percent of all working days lost due to ill health between 2014 and 2015. Stress is more common in public service industries such as health and social care and public administration, according to statistics.
While these statistics may indicate an increased willingness in employees to open up about their mental health, many companies still fail to adequately deal with the issues. This neglect often results in a ripple effect that could end up costing the business dearly.
Deteriorating mental health brings down productivity and motivation along with it, meaning that employees will not deliver an optimal standard of work, thus making your business suffer.
Symptoms of mental unrest at the workplace may manifest themselves in a variety of ways. An article by the Equality and Diversity unit of Oxford University, provides a comprehensive list of symptoms to take into consideration:
Line managers who spot these symptoms in employees should be quick to address and deal with them before they escalate and potentially become more damaging to the overall productivity of the individual, and the team.
Mental health, much like physical health, can often fluctuate depending on what causal factors an individual may be exposed to. According research by the CIPD, 70 percent of employee mental health problems are either directly caused by work or by a combination of work and home.
In acknowledging the prevalence of workplace triggers that may cause mental distress, it’s important to note that a management approach which solely views mental ill health as a medical problem is therefore unlikely to succeed.
Managers need to be alert to the potential workplace triggers for distress in employees, such as:
In order to facilitate the preventative and recovery measures to ensure optimal mental health, managers need to be proactive by developing and implementing a Wellness Action Plan.
A good Wellness Action Plan should prioritise the following:
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