According to the NHS, the cost of mental health to the UK economy is £105 billion a year. It’s also estimated that 15.4 million work-days are lost due to poor mental health. It’s a problem that will affect each and every business, but one that each and every business can help.
Mental health disorders are a broad spectrum, encapsulating anxiety, depression, acute stress and much more. Contrary to physical ailments, there is often not an obvious outward sign of a problem – which makes the area so much more finely balanced.
The businesses which value the health of their employees stand to benefit in many ways. They can expect decreased absence, better employee focus, a better employee relationship and all the bottom-line benefits that go alongside that. So, it’s no surprise we’re seeing things like ‘mental wellbeing days’ (where an employee can take a day absent, to boost their mental wellbeing), gym memberships, reflection workshops, and onsite yoga clubs.
Kevin Ashley, Managing Director at myAko, feels passionately about this topic, “The figures are shocking and saddening. All organisations, big and small, should be proactively supporting their teams and educating them on important topics like mindfulness.”
Mental health has benefited from better media coverage over the past couple of years, which has helped the recognition of this as a serious issue. With campaigns like World Mental Health Day (10 October), more and more conversations are going on to better our understanding and awareness. With increased understanding comes the increased ability to build strategies.
The responsibility of spotting mental health challenges
One of the challenges, when suffering with mental health disorders, can be caused by the need to withdraw. Whereas back pain might prompt you to see a doctor, things like anxiety may cause you to pull back from society. Which means it can take a watchful eye, or caring friend to initiate some support. When it comes to the workplace, who in your organisation carries that responsibility? Does it sit with HR? Or the managers? And how effective do you think they are?
This is where education is key. What if everyone in the workforce were better informed – and they could all look out for each other? That would take the pressure away from the managers, HR, and result in a much more effective system – hundreds of eyes and ears, rather than just a few.
According to Kevin Ashley,
“No matter how senior you are in your organisation, it’s important that all team members can talk openly… We must all learn to have a listening ear and know where to signpost people for support.”
Mental wellbeing in learning and development
Businesses tend to take data protection very seriously. Each company has its own strategy, but it’s typically compulsory training every six months, driven by fears of big fines and bad press. Well perhaps it’s time to take a similar view on mental health. Compulsory training, every six months, driven by the desire to help staff and save the business money.
Just imagine empowering each employee with the following:
· The importance of mental health
· How to promote good mental health
· How to spot when your mental health may be slipping
· How to spot others who may be struggling
· Where to turn for support
That would mean an increased ability to look after themselves. A better likelihood of catching mental health problems with colleagues. And a stronger awareness of how they can get help.
Such a foundation in education could be the backbone of your mental health strategy. And through education you can drive change.
We can help
myAko provides an intelligent framework in which to base your education. The intelligent learning management system (LMS) will make it easier to find courses through tagging, will alert people to when training is due, will help you launch it through company broadcasts, and will even gather feedback to help you identify follow ups and improvements. If that wasn’t enough, you can even schedule it into an onboarding plan for new starters, to make it a fundamental aspect of everyone’s job going forward.
Mental health is an area that needs our support. So, choose a strong learning management system to ensure it lands properly. If we all take responsibility, then together we can make a difference.
If you’d like to talk about how we can get your mental health education off the ground, get in touch on 01202 283283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Simon Andrew, Consultant and Director at Me[plural],on behalf of myAko.