The importance of being open about mental health in the workplace

Being open about taking time off for your mental health will benefit both you and your employer. We look at the importance of the issue and how you can discuss mental health at work.

According to new research by consultancy firm Deloitte and mental health charity Mind, poor mental health in the workplace is costing UK employers more.

The extent of the challenges bosses face is hard to determine, but employees and employers alike can contribute to improving the situation.

Increasing costs

A range of factors have contributed to the increased cost for employers but the most concerning are presenteeism, burnout and employees calling in sick instead of being honest about their mental health struggles.

The stigma surrounding open discussions about mental health in the workplace have contributed to these factors, with presenteeism being one of the biggest issues.

This is when people go to work despite not feeling up to it and it is on the rise. This leads to staff being less productive when they are at work, in turn costing employers more than if they took a day off to recharge or seek support.

Between 2014 and 2018 the percentage of employees coming to work despite feeling ill rose by 12.7%.

With pressure on staff to be constantly switched on, even outside the walls of their workplace, burnout is also becoming an increasing concern.

Creating change

In order to improve the situation in workplaces there has to be an open conversation about mental health. This starts with employers making it clear that it is ok to open up if employees do not feel well enough to come to work.

Awareness days and events like Brew Monday and Time to Talk Day are opportunities to start a discussion on mental health in the workplace. Without more acceptance of mental health problems employers will continue to lose money.

Seeking support

It is normal to be worried about telling your boss about a health issue, whether it is physical or mental, but you are entitled to time off if you are unwell.

Your workplace might have an employee wellbeing programme that offers support like counselling, or you can speak to a member of the Human Resources team to find out if you could negotiate flexible working hours and practices until you receive treatment.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your employer about your mental health there is other support available.

The Mental Health at Work website is a great starting point to find information and resources for better mental health in the workplace.

How have you started an open discussion on mental health in the workplace? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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