Mental Health Awareness Week – take a positive step today
Posted by Tracy Seward
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week – so take a positive step today. The organisers have taken a novel position from which to begin. Instead of asking us to consider why so many are experiencing mental health problems, they are choosing to investigate why so few of us enjoy the benefits of good mental health.
Whilst this seems an ingenious and positive way to frame the question, the truth is that mental health is a taboo which is not just an issue, but a real crisis. In late 2016, the Mental Health Foundation (the body behind Mental Health Week) reported that 49 per cent of employees suffering from mental health problems had experienced suicidal thoughts at work. In addition, 45 per cent of them had not told their employers for fear of being discriminated against. This last point is mirrored by the further fact that only 10 per cent of managers felt able to deal with the matter, citing insufficient training.
Conversely, from a corporate employer angle, we see a gradual change that appears to be on track to become a genuine movement. In our experience, well-being is increasingly becoming escalated to the point where it is contributing to the growth in Talent Branding and even making its way onto Board Meeting Agendas. However, it is currently a ‘Marmite’ matter. Some leadership teams really get it, others simply do not.
There is an old story; by way of a question and answer. The question is ‘What is the one thing that can’t be sold on a market stall?’. The answer is ‘Common sense’. Because those who have it don’t need it, and those who don’t have it don’t understand why they need it.’
And so it appears to be with well-being. Those leadership teams who actively promote a work-life balance and provide well-being support and related perks to their talent invariably evangelise about the productivity gains, reduced lost hours and enhanced creativity that they unlock. Meanwhile others, leading equally successful organisations, just switch off as soon as any related terms are mentioned. We think the latter is reaching a tipping point and there are some useful resources around this matter on the CIPD website.
In today’s climate, it’s hard not to notice that numerous work-based practices induce stress. Root causes range from under-funding crises’ through to the simple reality of email on-the-go, and its impact on home and family life – particularly for those who are incentivised by performance-related reward and management.
Whilst psychologists and therapists may be able to determine precisely where the divides lie along the spectrum ranging from positive stress to pressure, to inappropriate stress and onto clinical medical health issues, many of us can clearly experience their presence in our working lives. And whether working in a hedge fund or for the minimum wage, we can also recognise how, like many forms of human behaviour, issues at the acceptable end of the spectrum often form the catalyst for rapid descent to the dangerous end.
Whether you work in an organisation with an active and enthusiastic attitude towards Well-being, or one that tends to be reluctant and recalcitrant, Praxis42 provides two courses that help to ensure a positive attitude towards stress in the workplace, and its impact on mental health issues. And the reason this may well appeal to the latter attitude, as well as the former, is because it provides a very low-cost solution.
Stress Awareness for Managers is designed to help address the institutionalised issues around managers’ inability to deal with related issues. This helps enable them to better understand the difference between pressure and stress, the causes of stress, the positive actions they can take and their responsibilities as a manager.
Stress Awareness for Employees tackles the same issues from the opposite perspective, helping empower employees to recognise signs of stress and take appropriate actions.
Available online and costing just £35 and £30 per person respectively with rates discounted for multiple users, these courses take around 30 minutes to complete anytime and anywhere that an internet connection is available.
All Praxis42 courses are IOSH Approved and these two courses also align with the HSE’s stress management standards which help evaluate and manage potential stress in the workplace.
These two courses combine to provide a double lock for organisations wanting to take positive action to support their employees and to avoid the average of 29 working days lost for each case of stress, depression or anxiety.