Mental Health in the Workplace: Some numbers…

Last week I Chaired another sell-out Jelf event in central London – this time on Mental Health in the Workplace.

Now this is not a topic that has particularly featured on this blog over the last few years, although we have of course regularly commented on workplace stress issues. So in my preparation for the event I undertook some research in order to make my comments as relevant as possible to our delegates.

During my research I found this rather useful document from Business In The Community (BITC) which was published last October. And some of the findings from this report subsequently appeared in my slides also.

So the four key numbers that our employer followers may find of interest are these:

77% of employees have experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives

29% of employees have been diagnosed with a mental health condition

of employees attributed their symptoms of poor mental health to work or said that work was a contributing factor

9% of employees who experienced symptoms of poor mental health faced disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal

Now I believe that all of these findings are of importance to employers as they show the (perhaps higher than otherwise expected) incidence of poor mental health in employed populations, and indeed how work can be a contributing factor to such issues. The last point also highlights that employers sometimes end up taking disciplinary action against an employee with poor mental health, and therefore legal complications could follow if a lack of support and understanding from the employer is evidenced.

The bottom line here is that employers need to accept that employees who are experiencing symptoms of poor mental health will be present in most workforces, and probably much of the time also. It follows that policies and procedures should be in force to help employees as needed.

However, to get to that point employers need to first acknowledge that they have an issue to tackle here. And this paragraph from the BITC report I think is particularly relevant:

"Acknowledge that a gap may exist in your own business between leadership perception of support for employee mental health, and reality of employees’ experience. Take action to identify the gaps and be clear that you are committed to resolving this.”

Which pretty much is the key message of this post. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the targeted use of many Employee Benefits (and the associated tools inherent within same) can also play an important role in this issue. For more information on this issue please speak to your usual Jelf consultant in the first instance.