We’ve been discussing mental health in the workplace frequently, but do we truly understand its meaning? Everyone experiences mental health, similar to physical health. It varies; sometimes it’s good, sometimes less so. When it declines, issues start to surface—emotional, psychological, and social challenges may arise.

Similar to our physical health, optimal function occurs when everything operates harmoniously. Individuals with good mental and physical health can achieve their potential, manage life’s pressures, work productively and make informed decisions.

Therefore, as an employer, it is logical to prioritise the health and well-being of all your staff, ensuring their needs are considered and supported as necessary, appropriate and feasible. However, some employers seem to hold a number of mental health workplace myths. As as result, we thought it was high time they 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. However, 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. 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 experience 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.

We hope we have helped address these mental health workplace myths to create a healthier and more supportive work environment. 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 HR today.

We are People Matters, because YOUR people matter.