The charity Mind has conducted research that shows, without any doubt, that a culture of fear (and ultimately silence) around mental health is costly to employers.
For example, when asked how work-based stress had impacted on the lives of employees, 21% stated they had called in sick to avoid work (though that is unlikely to have been the reason given for their absence). Equally, 42% of employees asked stated they had considered resigning due to work based stress, and a further 14% had actually done so.
As an employer, this means valuable staff are missing from work, causing a lack of productivity and of course incurring further costs. Worst case scenario, it means these staff members are ultimately leaving, and looking for work elsewhere.
Here at People Matters we think one of the worst statistics to be uncovered by Mind is actually that 30% of employees asked said they did not feel able to talk to their line manager openly about their feelings of stress. With no one to talk to, and no hope of having their issues identified and addressed, it is little wonder staff are taking time off from work, or ultimately leaving.
Whilst it would be easy to point the finger of blame at employers for not being open or receptive enough to their employee’s feelings, 56% stated they would like to do more to help their staff and to improve wellbeing throughout the company. The problem, however, is not knowing where to start, or what to do, or whom to turn to when it comes to seeking advice and guidance.
The end result is that everyone ends up feeling alone. Employers feel their hands are tied, and wind up doing nothing (or very little) for fear of perhaps getting it wrong, and employees feel isolated and fearful about the potential repercussions of discussing their mental health concerns.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at a number of potential mental health issues that you, and your staff may experience, and what you can do to help support everyone who needs it within the workplace. Stress might be one of the main issues we think about when it comes to mental health at work; however, this is just the tip of the iceberg.