04 May Why Mental Health Awareness Week is Important for Your Workplace
Thriving workplaces has been helping employers across Norfolk since April 2017 to tackle workplace health and wellbeing from all angles. Whether it be smoking cessation or healthy eating, we have solutions to help, with the aim of making this the healthiest county to live and work in. All businesses are different, we work with everyone from offices of fewer than 10 people all the way up to large manufacturers, but from our experience, all employers have one growing concern; how do we look after the mental health and wellbeing of our staff?
Although mental health has become a hot topic recently, with an emphasis on it being key to overall wellbeing, many of us are still reluctant to address the issues. Often, this stems from a lack of understanding of the signs of symptoms of common mental health diagnoses, resulting in a perceived stigma. Much has been done to raise awareness and encourage discussion, but to remove the stigma and normalise conversations around mental health the subject needs to be more visible.
Some employers may feel that mental health and wellbeing of employees is outside of their remit, but bringing attention to the issue is mutually beneficial. The cost of mental ill health to employers is roughly £1300 per employee per year, a combination of sickness absence, staff turnover and reduced productivity. As we spend such a large portion of our time at work, it’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of common symptoms and of what help is available. Often, people don’t seek support early on because they are unaware that what they are experiencing can be linked to mental health or because they are unaware that there is effective help available. Educating employees through the workplace could prevent them from reaching a crisis point that requires extended sickness absence and encourages conversation and peer support to help people stay in work.
A great way to foster this supportive culture is taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the focus is on stress, a topic that everyone in a workplace can relate to in some way. Your workplace could hold a Curry and Chaat event in your canteen or just raise awareness with booklets and posters available through the Mental Health Foundation. If you have a Mental Health First Aider, they can use this week to spread the message of what they do, and how they can help to signpost colleagues towards effective support. There are many free resources available to help build a campaign and get support that is suitable for your workplace.
It’s a tough conversation to initiate, but the more that we do the easier it becomes and the better supported people living with mental health problems will be, something that everyone can benefit from.
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Thriving Workplaces is assisting a wide range of organisations across Norfolk to improve the health of the working population. We offer bespoke solutions including policy guidance, training and networking events to share solutions, and best of all we are free to workplaces in Norfolk! To find out more about what we do, take a look at our brochure and get in contact, we’d love to meet and discuss how we can work together to help you create a Thriving Workplace.