Why We Need To Talk About Mental Health In The Workplace

With more and more people facing mental health challenges, providing mental health and wellbeing support as part of the employee benefits you offer is a must. But unless these benefits are clearly and accurately communicated and the stigma associated with discussing mental health in the workplace is broken, even the best-laid plans can prove ineffective.

[Related reading: Supporting Employee Mental Health: A Big Opportunity For Employers]

Employee Benefits Communication Needs To Improve Amid Rising Mental Health Challenges

A combination of events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, have taken their toll on employees’ mental health. As a result, employers need to be doing everything they can to support their employees’ mental health.

Nursing support service RedArc says these events, in addition to the everyday challenges people face, are placing increased pressure on many people’s mental wellbeing. RedArc says the situation has been exacerbated by long NHS waiting lists. With 1.4 million people now waiting for treatment, the health service is struggling to cope with the record number of mental health referrals.

The sad aspect is that mental health support is often available via employers and insurers, yet employees don’t take full advantage because communication has been poor and they don’t know that help exists. 

RedArc managing director Christine Husbands says: “Mental health is complex, and it’s important that specialists provide support. There are many different types of therapy and support available, and it must be personalised to ensure people get the most appropriate support for them.”

She adds that support for employees and their partners and children is often there as part of insurance and employee benefits. That’s why it’s so important that the industry and organisations clearly communicate what help there is to ensure it is used.

Tackling The Stigma Associated With Mental Health

Although mental health awareness continues to rise and we’re a lot more openly talking about it now than we were previously, more still needs to be done to tackle the stigma associated with the subject.

Sadly, there are times when people still face discrimination for discussing mental health issues. As a result, people don’t feel as though they can be open and honest about the challenges they are facing, which prevents them from getting the help they need.

Men in particular can be reluctant to discuss their mental health. This is usually because they think that doing so will be seen as a sign of weakness and it would have a detrimental impact on their careers. Indeed, Ipsos Mori research prior to the pandemic revealed that up to 27% of British men believed their job would be at risk if they discussed their mental health at work.

The bottom line is more needs to be done to tackle the stigma associated with mental health discussions in the workplace. One way to approach this is for an organisation’s leaders to openly discuss any mental health challenges they themselves have experienced. 

Furthermore, by better signposting support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes and other wellbeing resources, employers can help their staff on their journeys to improved mental health.

[Related reading: Agile Culture & Mental Health Keys To Boosting Employee Engagement]

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Are you encouraging your staff to openly discuss their mental health? What support do you have in place for employees who are experiencing mental health challenges? Contact us today to find out how we can help you tailor your employee benefits so they better support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

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Author: Darren Perkins - Sales Director