Mental health is something that affects us all. Our mental health at work guide shows why it’s important to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace and for employers to take action to promote wellbeing at work.
Employees may take time off work to focus on their mental health for a number of reasons:
- An underlying mental health condition such as depression or anxiety may be disrupting their working life.
- Bereavement or personal reasons.
- They feel undervalued as part of the workforce.
- They may be struggling with the pressures and demands of their job.
- Another co-worker may be acting in a way that is harmful to their mental health.
- An employee may feel not enough support is provided at work, so they seek professional help elsewhere.
As employees’ mental health can be affected in many ways, it’s important that organisations to provide whatever support they can to their workforce, and be understanding of each employee’s individual needs. Mental health awareness training is, therefore, beneficial for all employees, managers and supervisors.
For more understanding on employee mental health, our Mental health and Me training can help employees get to grips with their mental health and how to improve it.
Why raising awareness of mental health in the workplace is needed
Workplace health and safety training often focuses on the physical health of employees but it is important that organisations realise that mental health is equally important. Raising awareness of mental health in the workplace is vital if a positive and productive working environment is to be achieved. According to HSE’s 2018 annual statistics, 15.4 million working days were lost in the year due to work-related stress, anxiety, or depression. If the most recent statistics are also viewed, 32.5 million working days were lost in 2019/20 due to work-related ill health. In these figures, depression, anxiety, and stress accounted for the biggest reason why time off work was taken. These figures show that employers have a growing problem on their hands, which makes the importance of raising awareness on mental health in the workplace all the more important.
Although training on mental health and stress in the workplace is now becoming increasingly commonplace, arguably it has always had a part in workplace health and safety training. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states that all employers have a statutory obligation to take “reasonably practicable” steps to ensure the welfare, wellbeing, health, and safety of their employers, mental wellbeing is covered too – although this is implied rather than explicitly mentioned.
Focusing on mental health and stress awareness may be a new trend in workplace training, but it is one that ensures employers are fulfilling their legal obligations when it comes to overall health and safety in the workplace. It’s also one that can ensure a positive, uplifting, and supportive environment is created, thereby showing a duty of care to an organisation’s employees.
There are several reasons why it’s important to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace, including:
Raising awareness of mental health in the workplace improves employee wellbeing
The main reason why training on mental health is important, for both managers and employees, is that it leads to happier individuals. By rolling out stress and mental health training in the workplace, organisations are effectively telling their employees that they truly care about their wellbeing. This can, in turn, increase employee happiness and wellbeing as individuals feel more engaged and better equipped to deal with any work-related stress.
Stress awareness training can lower employee absence rates
Unsurprisingly, it is not only employees who benefit from implementing stress awareness training in the workplace. Considering how many working days are lost due to mental health issues and work-related stress, improving the support provided to employees can not only increase productivity but it can also help you lower employee absence rates, which is likely to save you a fair amount in sick pay alone! An article published by Medical News Today focused on a survey conducted in Sweden on 4,737 managers who had access to mental health training. What the survey discovered was that those managers with training and educational experience in mental health had a greater likelihood to implement positive change and were active in talking to their employees so they can better understand mental health conditions, and put measures such as stress counselling and lectures in place.
Implementing stress awareness training
As with any other health and safety issues in the workplace, organisations have a legal duty to train and educate their staff on how to avoid hazards and look after their wellbeing. Implementing stress awareness training will support you in your statutory obligation to do just that in raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, and it will allow you to cultivate a more positive and understanding atmosphere within your organisation.
Here at Praxis42, we offer a wide range of health and safety e-learning courses which are the ideal way for organisations to train employees on the most important areas of workplace health and safety in an efficient and convenient way. When it comes to stress and raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, you can turn to our stress awareness courses, which will educate employees and managers on how to recognise and handle workplace stress, along with how work-related stress and pressure differ from each other.
If you or your organisation would like to know more about raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, you can submit an inquiry to Praxis to contact us and learn more.
If you are worried about isolation issues affecting employee mental health through homeworking, look at our training course on Homeworker Awareness to understand the importance of reporting issues and hazards at home. Risk assessments are required by law, as an employer.