To mark World Mental Health Day[i] on 10 October, this blog will look at how UK employers can use a range of solutions, including technology to overcome stigmas and better support staff suffering from mental health conditions.

Research from health insurer BHSF[ii] found that a fifth (42%) of UK employees call in sick citing a physical illness, when the real reason is a mental health issue. The report found that over half (56%) of employees admitted suffering from stress, a third (36%) from anxiety and a quarter from depression (25%). But, many workers suffer in silence. Only 15 per cent would tell their boss the truth about having a mental health issue.

Employers have a duty of care to look after their staff’s mental wellbeing but too often they don’t know where to start.

Technology can be used to track short and long-term absences and identify if someone is suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. If people are taking regular days off sick or more days off than usual, it could be a sign something more serious is going on. Absence management software highlights recurring patterns and provides insight for employers, so they can to talk to their staff gently and privately to discuss the real causes of sick days.

Open communication about mental health is also essential. People would rather be perceived as being lazy than having a mental health problem, so leaders must reassure people there are no stigmas around mental health. They could also promote mental health support services such as EAPs or counselling and use great events such as World Mental Health day to communicate positive mental health messages.

Here are my tips for improving workplace mental health:

Mental health issues are a growing problem, but there is a lot more employers can do to recognise the signs, encourage a culture of openness and offer support where it’s needed. Understanding your staff and getting to the root causes of absenteeism is a good place to start and can make a big difference to the outcome for both the business and the employee.

 


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