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It’s Time to Talk about Mental Health

Published 29th January 2018 by Charlotte Smith

Ahead of Time to Talk day this Thursday 1st February, we've outlined why it's so important to talk about mental health and have shared some advice for employers looking to start the conversation. 

According to mental health charity Mind, work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives. It would therefore stand to reason that workplaces across the UK are well-equipped in dealing with the strains and worries of those suffering with a mental health condition. Sadly this is not the case, with Mind also reporting that less than half of workers with a mental health problem had shared it with a manager.[1]

This is a worrying figure corroborated by the findings of the government’s Thriving at Work report which remarks that 300,000 people with long term mental health problems lose their jobs each year[2]. This belies an unacceptable level of miscommunication within British organisations, resulting in those with mental health conditions feeling that their positions are untenable.

However, miscommunication and misunderstanding can easily be rectified with a few simple steps to open up the dialogue and awareness in your organisation around mental health. Below are just five of what we see as Mind’s top tips to help embed the Time to Talk mentality in your business.

  1. The most effective way to facilitate open discussion about mental health is to ensure that line managers are creating environments where honest conversation is encouraged when it comes to mental health. For many, feeling like the option to talk to someone senior about a mental health issue is there is a relief and an important step in deciding whether to open up


  1. It is equally important that employees know that if they do choose to speak up about a mental health problem, that the information will be kept private. This promise can be promoted by communicating confidentiality boundaries alongside mental health strategy. This will also help action tip number 1; an effective mental health scheme is one which is well understood by all employees


  1. If an employee has taken the step to talk to someone about a mental health concern, it is vital that immediate action is taken as a result. The best way to decide which action to take is to work closely with the employee to develop an action plan based on a conversation where the employee suggests the ways in which their mental health might impact their work and vice versa, and suggest steps to support them through these challenges


  1. The above step can take time to implement, but organisations who maximise flexibility in their internal working practices will be far more capable of properly supporting employees who need to adopt new strategies to cope with their mental health. For example, flexible and remote working policies can provide employees with the ability to choose a style of working that works for them


  1. Underpinning all of the above strategies should be a strong source of support for those in senior positions who are responsible for implementing mental health support for their teams. It is vital that employees at every level have the resources to understand how to open up conversations on mental health