We’ve been talking a lot recently about mental health, but do we always know what we mean by this?  Mental health is something we all have – the same as physical health.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s less so.  When it starts to deteriorate, that’s when we begin to see problems arise.  These problems can include emotional, psychological and social issues.

As with our physical health, it makes sense that we function better as a whole when everything is working together perfectly (or as well as it can).  People with good mental (and physical) health can realise their potential, cope with the everyday pressures of life, work productively and make good choices. 

It therefore makes sense that as an employer you will have a vested interest in ensuring all your staff’s health needs and wellbeing is considered, and supported, where necessary, appropriate and possible.  However, some employers seem to hold a number of myths around mental health that we thought it was high time were addressed.

Myth #1 – Mental Health problems are rare

If by rare you mean 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem during the course of the next 12 months, then yes, it’s rare. 

In reality mental ill health is one of the leading causes of sickness absence in England, though not all staff will disclose the real reason for taking time off.  Instead of saying “I am feeling stressed”, they may complain of a headache, thus masking the problem.

This can lead to further complications as individuals downplay their own problems, and do not feel able to approach others and seek help or support.  In fact, one in six of us within the working population are likely to be experiencing symptoms that meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of either depression or anxiety.

Myth #2 – Mental health is not a priority for my business

With limited time, funds and expertise it can be tempting to assume that mental health is not a priority, and something you can just ignore until a problem arises.  Of course, your business is there to make money, to ensure your customers are happy and your staff have job security.

However, your staff are the most important asset within your business.  If they are not working to the best of their abilities, if they are tried, unhappy, struggling, making mistakes or taking extensive time off work then this has a negative impact on your business.

Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

Myth #3 – People with mental health problems can’t work

It may very well be that some people who experiencing mental ill health need to take some time off from work to address issues and work on recovery. However, the vast majority of people will be able to work without any changes deemed necessary to their working hours, workload or environment.

Simply knowing that your employer is supportive, and is approachable during times of disease or distress, is often enough to relieve a vast majority of work-based anxiety during difficult periods. 

If you are an employer and you want to find out more about how you can support your staff, or what your legal obligations are, please speak to the team at People Matters today.

We are People Matters because YOUR people matter.