Just talking about mental health, accepting it and being open about it is a great start for any business. Mental health and wellbeing is rightly high on the agenda of most businesses. Not least because mental ill health is the cause of 54% of long-term absence from the workplace according to the 2022 Health and Wellbeing Survey by the CIPD.
It shows that though the majority of employers are being proactive supporting the mental health of their teams and are actively promoting good mental wellbeing this number has dropped from 77% in 2021 to 68% in 2022.
More worryingly the survey reveals that less than two-fifths of respondents agree that managers are confident to have sensitive discussions and signpost people to expert sources of help when needed; even fewer (29%) believe they are confident and competent to spot the early warning signs of mental ill health.
Troublingly only 26% provide guidance/training for line managers on how to support people to stay at work when managing health conditions.
Stress, anxiety, loneliness and burnout are the major causes of mental ill health exacerbated by the recent pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. People’s resilience is being worn down by these extraneous factors on top of individual issues. Perhaps then it is a good time for MP Dean Russel to once again attempt to raise the issue of Mental Health First Aiders in Parliament.
In his address to the House of Commons he said
I must be clear that mental health first aiders are not expected to be counsellors or psychologists, but just like physical first aiders, who are not expected to be paramedics or surgeons, this Bill will simply mean that workers have someone to signpost them to the support and help when they need it.
This private members Bill is now awaiting its second reading in the house.
Businesses need not wait for legislation before fully exploring the ways they can be supporting their staff. Mental Health First Aiders alone will not address the complex requirements of mental ill health in the workplace but as part of a wider strategy of action and critically support and understanding we can better support our colleagues in difficult times, building trust and loyalty as well as supporting the full potential of our staff.
Mental ill health costs UK employers an estimated £56 billion each year according to Deloitte’s UK 2022 Mental Health and Employers report. Each pound spent by employers on mental health interventions could make a return of £5.30 by reducing absence, presenteeism and staff turnover. So not only does it seem to make economic sense, employees are asking for this support, with one third who would like or expect more support for their mental health and wellbeing.
Creating the culture where staff can speak to line managers about their mental health is critical to addressing the current mental health crisis. At Employee Feedback we provide opportunities for staff views and concerns to be heard as well as being an impartial vehicle for positive feedback and appreciation. We can support you tackle this huge challenge in the workplace and help you build a stronger, healthier business.