The Importance Of Mental Health Awareness In The Workplace

Mental health has become a trending topic recently thanks to celebrities and high profile figures speaking out about how important it is. However, in a business context, it also has a great deal of relevance to the way that an organisation functions, including when it comes to culture and productivity. If there is one thing that employers need to focus on in 2019 it’s how important the topic of mental health awareness in the workplace has become.

Mental health is a key challenge

A recent study established that mental health is the second most significant challenge facing most employers over the next five years. Around 6.5 million UK adults a week suffer with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. These can vary from uneasy feelings to being unable to fully participate in living a satisfying life. Inevitably this will also have an impact on the way that someone behaves in the workplace, both in terms of interactions with others and also performance.

Why should this matter to employers?

  • Cost. To put the issue into financial terms, mental health issues in the workplace have been estimated to cost employers £26 billion per year. This is because around a quarter of work absences are attributable to mental health issues.
  • The impact on job performance. Although everyone is different, mental health issues often manifest in reduced performance at work. They can impact someone’s confidence, judgment and how well they work with others. If someone in the office is struggling with mental health issues it can disrupt the whole team.
  • Accidents and mistakes. Many of the incidents that occur in the workplace are the result of a loss of concentration or not being fully focused on the task at hand. Poor concentration often results from problems such as anxiety and depression and the ancillary conditions that can often arise, including insomnia.
  • Overall productivity. Employees with mental health issues can let customer service standards slip while trying to process their own issues and could also impact on the business’ reputation. Overall productivity levels can suffer where staff are struggling like this and you may also face increased recruitment costs as a result of high turnover, as staff who can’t cope and aren’t supported simply leave.

The benefits of genuine support

Perhaps that most important reason why employers should be more aware of employee mental health is that doing so can have a very positive impact on the business as a whole. Happy employees whose mental health and wellbeing is valued by employers can be up to 12% more productive. Organisations that are open and supportive about mental health and take steps to demonstrate that this matters are able to attract better quality candidates and have employees who thrive. For example, 90% of Millennials will choose a company they believe identifies with their needs, something that is often the result of businesses being able to display empathy with an issue like workplace stress.

Mental health in the workplace is an important issue today. It matters, not just for the wellbeing of employees themselves, but that of the wider business too.