Mental health problems can have a considerable effect on a person’s ability to work. Many people also find mental health issues more difficult to talk about than physical health conditions, so they are often shrouded in stigma and lack of understanding. A high proportion of the employers, employees and GPs who seek help from Fit for Work are concerned about mental health conditions and work. So we’ve pulled together some of the most popular blogs on the theme of mental health as a reminder.
The language of mental health has permeated our day-to-day lives, like talk of mindfulness, coping strategies and de-stressing. But for many workers and their employers, mental health remains a taboo subject shrouded in embarrassment and the fear of stigma and discrimination.
In this guest blog, Leila Woodhouse, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, talks about Mind’s Find the Words campaign, which is focused on ensuring that everyone with a mental health problem who visits their GP practice gets the support that best suits their needs.
Work-related stress and anxiety are estimated to be the second biggest occupational health problem in the UK, after musculoskeletal disorders such as back problems. Employers have a duty of care to create a workplace culture that does not shy away from discussion of mental health issues; it needs to be made explicit to all employees that time off work due to mental ill health will be treated in the exact same way as time off due to physical ill health.
Can employers spot the difference between an employee’s normal response to a pressured few weeks and the symptoms of an underlying mental health issue? It’s very important for line managers/employers to learn to recognise the signs of potential mental health problems in order to minimise any disruption and maintain a happy, healthy workforce.
Whether short or long-term, staff absences hit companies hard and drain businesses of their vital resources. Thousands of pounds are lost each year due to illness, from staff cover costs to sick pay, lost production and poor service. Whichever way you look at it – sickness absence is costly. Employers should evaluate the physical and mental health of their workforce, including the costs absorbed from sickness absence.
If you want to discuss a work-related health issue (your own, or on behalf of an employee or patient), you can call the free Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235. There is also a telephone number for Welsh speakers (0800 032 6233) and a separate service is running in Scotland – Fit for Work Scotland (0800 019 2211). You can find online resources and guidance at Fit for Work or Fit for Work Scotland.