Mental Health in the Workplace – Learning how to thrive

In this short post, Dr Karen McDonnell discusses the importance of organisations focussing on their internal approach around mental health in the workplace.

When was the last time you told someone you were proud of them or asked them how they were feeling? Too often in the world of work we crash on, getting the job done without recognition that ‘how we do things’ can have an impact on our colleagues.

The latest figures from the HSE show that ‘how we do things’ results in 31.2million lost working days due to work-related illness and workplace injury, and an estimated £14.9 billion cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions.

These numbers help us focus on where the problem areas are, however these are only one part of the picture. The recent Thriving at Work report highlighted the “significant mental health challenge” faced by businesses across the UK, and the productivity cost that none of us can afford.

Last week the Secretary of State for Health, in a response to a Parliamentary question posed by Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central), stated that the Government is hopeful that responsible employers will choose to adopt the mental health core standards of the report and improve their workplace environment.

The RoSPA position on Mental Health at Work stresses the importance of embedding coverage of the HSE Stress Management standards in training and continuing professional development of all managers, workers’ representatives and health and safety professionals.

Equipping people to feel confident in opening up about mental health and providing pathways that keep them at work is so important, as currently 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their job every year.

Businesses need to adopt a ‘whole person whole life’ approach to engaging with their employees, recognising that we have one body and one mind that has to sustain us over time – through childhood, into school, onto work and as we move into pre-retirement. And with an ageing population, sustainable working lives have to become a priority for us all.

People need to thrive to survive, and good work helps us prosper, flourish and feel fulfilled. Part of the process is that simple “How are you?” or “We are delighted at the progress you have made”, which need not necessarily be linked to annual appraisals.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and with a little TLC your team members can improve their whole lives.

Don’t forget to sign up to SafetyMatters to download your very own Stress in the Workplace eBook. 

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