However, despite the ongoing work done to address the taboo and stigmatisation of mental health, its incidence in the workplace remains all too high.
Between 2009 and 2013 the number of sick days lost to stress, depression and anxiety amongst the UK workforce increased by 24%. What is less tangible but equally concerning for business leaders is the impact of “presenteeism”, essentially staff ignoring the problems they’re suffering, and instead feeling compelled to plough on through the day. It’s ineffective for the business, and it’s harmful for the individual – so what’s to be done?
Many would agree that businesses have been somewhat slow to put in place both preventative strategies to keep employees happy and healthy and also ensure that staff who do suffer from mental health problems have access to the right support and expertise. This was reflected in a Business in the Community study published last week which revealed that over a quarter of managers (76%) felt staff wellbeing was their responsibility, yet 80% say organisational barriers prevented them from delivering it. One major barrier was the lack of understanding of mental health amongst staff which many businesses are struggling to address through initiatives such as training, with just one in five managers in the UK receiving specific mental health training.