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"Employers must do more to improve employees’ mental health"

Every year World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity for communities and organisations to unite in raising awareness of lives lost to suicide. 

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1 in 6 workers are thought to be dealing with a mental health problem
1 in 6 workers are thought to be dealing with a mental health problem

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2018 over 6,500 people died of suicide. In light of this, we should all be prompted to take action.

 

With 1 in 6 workers thought to be dealing with a mental health problem, employers could make the workplace a much more open and safe space in order to destigmatise mental illness and curb health problems.

 

A mental health sick day is just as important as a physical one

An employee taking one day off for self-care will harm the business far less than an ongoing period of high stress. It’s important to let your employees know that you understand the need to prioritise good mental health by encouraging a progressive environment where they can speak up about their troubles without fear of judgement. As such, if an employee comes forward to request a mental health sick day, or a manager suspects they may be in need of one, there’s no need to pry into the reasons why. Instead, managers and business leaders should use supportive language to let employees know that the company is invested in their happiness.

 

Communicate face-to-face

As the working day gets more hectic, we often become guilty of solely communicating via short emails, but this can be a recipe for miscommunication. The lack of nuance that comes from dealing with employees exclusively via email can often exacerbate anxiety issues for those inclined to overthink the written word, even if it was typed perfectly innocuously. It’s therefore a good idea to take the time to check in in-person to ensure that employees’ needs are being met, and also to see if there is anything that can be done to improve their experience at work.

 

Promote mental wellbeing in the workplace

All employers should make a real effort to put mental wellbeing at the forefront of their employee engagement strategy this Autumn. Notice boards, company intranets, team training days and personal one-to-ones can all help to remind employees of the opportunities they have to discuss their personal wellbeing confidentially, whether that be a hotline for counselling or local group therapy sessions.

 

Even small nudges can sometimes make a really big difference; employers should make sure that their team leaders are encouraging their people to work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks and use all their annual leave. These are all rights they’re completely entitled to, yet these are often the first things to be sacrificed during busy periods. It doesn’t take huge structural changes to improve your workforce’s mental wellbeing, but little actions such as these will foster a culture of care and reward everybody in the long run.

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