Mental Health Matters
11th April 2018
As part of my role as Equality and Diversity Intern I was given the chance to get involved with the Workplace Wellbeing Charter. The University is working hard to create a more inclusive environment, and the Charter contributes towards achieving this. This Charter provides employers with a helpful structure to plan improvements to support health and wellbeing at work, and to have their progress assessed against a national standard, demonstrating their commitment to the wellbeing of their staff. The University was assessed last year, and achieved the Charter mark award to Commitment. We will be re-assessed in two years, and are looking to achieve the next level up across all categories.
The requirements to achieve the next level up on Mental Health will not be easy, as the standards set are quite challenging.
As you can probably imagine, that’s a lot of work to do, and the research I’m doing is one of many actions. My role has been to look into recent government guidance around mental health in the workplace, and compile recommendations from them. So, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, here are a few things I found along the way…
Mental Illness is common.
Mental illness is common and affects more people than we might think. 1 in 4 people experience mental ill health at some point in their lives (ACAS. Promoting positive mental health in the workplace. October 2017). This means that the number of people in the workforce at any one time who are experiencing poor mental health could be significant. Positive support is likely to have a big impact on helping people to remain productive at work.
Measures to improve wellbeing are cost effective.
On the face of it, it sounds like intervening in the workplace to improve the way mental wellbeing is addressed should cost money… and you’re right, it does. However, in the long run it’s likely to save money. A number of companies have been devoting budgets to the improvement of staff wellbeing and seeing brilliant results.
Communication is key.
It may seem pretty obvious, but bear with me. There’s a lot more to this than it seems. Communication between staff and managers needs to be strong to ensure that:
- Staff are clear about what their tasks are, when they’re due etc
- Greater transparency regarding changes in the workplace etc
- Greater levels of trust between the manager and staff member which will enable them to notice mental ill health sooner. This is vital. If the employee doesn’t feel comfortable telling their managers how they’re feeling, they may attend work when they’re too unwell to do so. This could result in a further deterioration in their mental health, which in turn may take longer to recover from.
Preventative measures that protect people’s wellbeing rather than treat their mental ill health are the most effective in helping people to thrive at work. Obviously it’s important to support those experiencing mental ill health or who become too unwell to work. However, through implementing measures that improve the working environment and positive wellbeing for all, employees are less likely to be impacted by mental ill health.
As already mentioned, this research has been just one aspect of the University’s work to improving the health and wellbeing of its staff and students. Our chaplains run free mindfulness sessions on each of our campuses once a week. We provide Resilience training for our staff, and have plans to run a number of events related to mental health and wellbeing. The next event is an evening theatre production of ‘A Pint Sized Conversation’ later this month.
Pint Sized Conversation
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