Mental Health & The Workplace
Posted on 16th June 2017 at 14:51
Mental health is slowing climbing the health agenda as more and more prominent people talk about how they or those close to them have been affected by a range of debilitating and often over whelming mental health issues. More than 15 million working days a year are lost to problems of depression, anxiety or stress, costing businesses up to £70bn annually. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people will at some point in their lives have to take time out from work or be away from their families to deal with their issues.
There are many factors that lead to someone becoming depressed or highly anxious and not all of them are obvious without some exploration. It is often reported that modern living contributes to the high prevalence of distress and there is some evidence that this may be the case. However as mental health is increasingly in the media and discussed in schools, colleges, the work place and more widely it may be that the current levels of distress were always this high just under reported.
Stress is now recognised as one factor that can precipitate the onset of mental health issues and many work places do provide some level of guidance to help individuals that are beginning to struggle with their lives. However more widely mental health services have not been well funded and access to support can take months during which time many people give up trying to get help and struggle on, leading to recurrent bouts of absence and to loss of productivity, increased cost and for some the loss of employment.
Organisations need to find a way to support staff and help them talk about their issues this can often be with first line management who have had some training to identify when mental health issues are beginning to develop and when it may still be possible to prevent a full scale crises for the individual concerned.
As a Talent director and someone who is training to be a counsellor/therapist I meet many people who have had to leave the work place and who subsequently find it harder to get back into employment and particularly to continue their careers. This represents a loss of talent to many industries at a time when there are acute skill shortages across many sectors. And distress does not discriminate on position as the recent story about Virgin Finance boss Virgin Boss and Depression illustrates and as this study in the Harvard Business Review Managers and Depression describes.
It is hoped that the raising profile of mental health issues and the dreadful misery and pressure it puts on people and organisations can be taken more seriously and resources directed to those who need them.
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