It’s not often we arrive at work to be told that today it’s ‘time to talk’! But today, Thursday 1st Feb 2018, we’re doing exactly that and showing our support for 'Time to Talk Day'. Brought about by Time to Change, to encourage everyone to have a conversation about mental health … no matter who they are!
Mental health is an issue that no organisation can afford to ignore with 1 in 4 British workers being affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year. It is also the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year (Time to Change).
Many who are struggling with their mental health are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Very often, it is left to the person who is struggling to find the strength to open up and talk about their illness, as those around them don’t know how to start those difficult conversations and are afraid to say the wrong thing. Time to Talk Day is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.
There is a strong business case for tackling the stigma associated with mental illness and even small changes can have a positive impact. Sickness absence rates are reduced, presenteeism levels drop and staff wellbeing, productivity, and retention improve all round if employees feel appropriately supported. Businesses need to know what to say, when to say it and most importantly how it needs to be said.
There has never been a better time to take those first steps and start to make change happen. We’ve put together 5 ways that any business, no matter how big or small, can step up and improve their culture and attitude to mental health in the workplace today.
- Work with an independent occupational health organisation that can assess your businesses specific needs for mental health and wellbeing and work with you to put strategies in place. This might include mental resilience training to help prevent mental illness in the first place or training dedicated members of staff to help reduce stress or deal with Mental Health First Aid.
- Sign up for the Time to Change Employer Pledge and develop an action plan to get your employees talking appropriately and supportively about mental health. This could include in-house awareness projects or training for employees and line managers to help understand mental health issues and how to handle those difficult conversations about mental illness within their teams.
- Create an in-house mental health resource by choosing one or more members of the team to become dedicated Mental Health First Aiders. Employees will have a dedicated member of staff who they know they can talk to, who has been trained to listen and signpost where to get help.
- Review your company’s health benefits, employee assistance program and support structures. Make sure there is provision for confidential support and that your employees know about it. Get senior management on board and lead by example, creating a culturally supportive workplace.
- Appropriate communication - find time to talk to colleagues and start a conversation by simply asking if everything’s ok? A quiet private spot away from the office works well, listen without judgement and encourage others to do the same when you notice someone may need a little support.
How is your office finding Time to Talk? Have you pledged to make any changes to your workplace today?